Palladium Equity to invest in Latino-owned bank

PROMERICA Bank also intends to work with minority-owned small business beyond the Latino community.

Palladium Equity Partners, a New York-based investment firm that targets the US Hispanic market, plans to invest in PROMERICA Bank, the first Latino-owned commercial bank to open in California in 30 years, Palladium and PROMERICA said in a statement.

Maria Contrearas-Sweet, former secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, will become PROMERICA’s chairwoman. Edward Roski, CEO of real estate company Majestic Realty who will become the bank’s vice chairman. The two founded PROMERICA to serve small and mid-sized businesses in Los Angeles. More than one-third of all businesses in Los Angeles are Latino-owned, according to Palladium, and they generate more than $23 billion annually.

The number of Latino-owned businesses in the US increased by 31 percent between 1997 and 2002, a rate three times greater than the national average, the statement said, citing the US Census.  “PROMERICA Bank demonstrates the potential of the fast-growing US Hispanic market and is poised for tremendous growth given the significantly underserved market in Los Angeles,” said Marcos Rodriguez, a managing partner at Palladium, in the statement.

Maria Contreras-Sweet, of PROMERICA bank

Though Latino-owned business will make up a large part of PROMERICA’s clients, such businesses will not be its sole targets. “While we are proud of the milestone we have achieved, we expect even greater accomplishments as the bank engages small businesses, be they Latino, Asian, non-ethnic or women-owned, in a concerted effort to expand the economic landscape of the region,” said Contreras-Sweet in the statement.

Palladium, founded in 1997, focuses its investments on middle market companies in areas including retail, media, food, healthcare and business services. It currently has capital of more than $750 million. The investment in PROMERICA is the second investment of Palladium Fund III. That fund closed with $520 million of committed capital in March 2006.