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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 5, 2003

250 want to testify on bank merger

By David Butts
Advertiser Staff Writer

Speaking out on merger

WHAT: Public hearing on Central Pacific-City Bank merger bid

WHEN: Monday, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: State Capitol Auditorium

INFO: State Division of Financial Institutions, 586-2820
More than 250 people have signed up to testify at a public hearing Monday on Central Pacific Bank's hostile bid to take over City Bank.

Central Pacific Financial Corp. offered to buy City Bank's parent, CB Bancshares, in April for cash and stock now valued at about $245 million.

City Bank's managers oppose the takeover and have been encouraging customers to speak at the hearing chaired by Nick Griffin, commissioner of the state Division of Financial Institutions.

Griffin, who has until Feb. 18 to decide whether to let the merger go forward, said the 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. hearing could be extended if one day is not sufficient.

"Our intent is to let the public comment," Griffin said.

The deadline for submitting written testimony was Wednesday. As of late yesterday, Griffin said his office counted testimony from 250 people, and the number was growing.

City Bank, which urged the state to hold a public hearing, was "overwhelmed with letters of support and people willing to testify," said spokesman Wayne Miyao.

In recent months, City Bank has employed tactics similar to a political campaign to oppose the merger, including distributing "Proud to be City Bank" bumper stickers and sending employees to the street to wave signs.

On the day of the hearing, City Bank plans to have employees lined up in front of the State Capitol waving signs, and will send its top executives to testify.

Central Pacific Bank also hopes the hearing will work to its advantage.

"We understand the concerns of City Bank customers and employees," said Ann Takiguchi, Central Pacific's communications officer. "We hope to provide a very factual discussion of our proposed merger ... and to alleviate some of the apprehensions."

Combining Central Pacific, the state's fourth largest bank, with City Bank, the fifth largest, would create a stronger institution, Central Pacific says. City Bank opposes the merger, saying it would lead to layoffs and fewer choices for consumers.

Reach David Butts at dbutts@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2453.