Pinoy biz leaders testify in support of CIT-One West bank merger

LOS ANGELES – Filipino and other minority business leaders threw in their support for one of the largest bank mergers in recent years: CIT’s acquisition of One West.

“One West was the bank or is the bank that will take the Filipinos in the next level. They are very committed in the micro lending, in the small business, they’re very committed in increasing home ownership,” explained Faith Bautista of the National Asian American Coalition.

CIT announced it would buy One West last year. Both banks were hit hard by the recession.

CIT filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while Southen California-based One West was part of IndyMac’s mortgage meltdown.

“The bank is highly regulated now. The bank is actually there to help all of us,” said Bautista.

Jeff Lim, founder and owner of Island Pacific Supermarket was among those testifying. He displayed packs of dried fish as he spoke.

“It’s banks like One West that we should support; banks that allow us, banks that finance minority communities like us to import products like these dried fish. It’s a simple product like dried fish that create jobs in the Philippines,” testified Lim.

But while some leaders welcomed the merger, other community groups, as well as past foreclosure victims, warned it may not be good for the people and could lead to problems similar to the bank bailouts in 2008.

“It is a moral hazard, the evidence shows that increased concentration does not benefit many customers,” urged one leader.

“What we do not need is financial institutions that engage in tokenism merely to play into community organizations and regulators without offering any real partnership or active engagement in addressing poverty,” said another community leader against the bank.

The deal which would give CIT $67 billion in assets is scheduled to close early this year pending the final approval of the Federal Reserve.

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