First office for Santa Rosa; moves into Napa with Charter Oak takeoverNORTH BAY - In the last six months, Bank of Marin has made a major move into the Sonoma and Napa markets from Marin where the bank has become one of the largest in the region with more than $1 billion in assets.

“It is a very exciting time for us,” said Peter Pelham executive vice president and director of retail banking.

The bank, which previously had three branches in Petaluma, planned the move further into Sonoma County last year with the opening of a commercial banking office and branch in downtown Santa Rosa and another location in Sonoma.

The commercial banking office opened with Dave Brown at the helm. Mr. Brown comes most recently from North Valley Bank but has a long history in banking having worked for Exchange Bank for 18 years. He oversees a private banker, two lenders and one support staff member. The branch will be open this summer, said Mr. Pelham.

The Sonoma branch, which will be under the supervision of Carol York, who oversees the Novato and Ignacio locations, will open in late summer, said Mr. Pelham.

Then in a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. assisted takeover, Bank of Marin acquired Charter Oak’s two branches in Napa, which are also under the supervision of Ms. York.

“We are deeply committed to the communities in which we operate,” said Russell Colombo, Bank of Marin’s president and chief executive officer.  “We share many of the same values as Charter Oak, focusing on personalized customer service and community involvement. In the 21 years we’ve been in business, we’ve established one of the healthiest banks in California. We are excited for the opportunity to leverage our financial strength to expand into Napa.”

Bank of Marin was the latest financial institution to expand in the Sonoma County market hoping to extend its footprint of business and retail services.

Umpqua, Circle, Union, Rabobank and Westamerica have all recently increased their presence in Sonoma County. Most have added branches or, in Westamerica’s case, it took over Sonoma Valley Bank after its seizure by regulators. In Marin, Union Bank purchased Tamalpais Bank after the latter was shut down by regulators. Rabobank purchased Napa Community Bank early last year then opened an office in Sonoma later in the year.

In Napa, Bank of Marin is still getting settled.

“We have retained a very high percentage of customer facing staff,” Mr. Pelham said.

“We want to have the people keeping relationships with the customers on the retail and lending side. They are critical.”

Brian Kelly, previously the president and chief executive officer at Charter Oak, is working as a consultant at Brian Kelly and Associates.

Bank of Marin Bancorp announced 2010 earnings increased 6.2 percent from the year before.

Earnings for 2010 were $13.6 million, an increase of $787,000 from $12.8 million in 2009.

Fourth-quarter earnings totaled $3.9 million, an increase of $1.1 million or 39.5 percent from $2.8 million at the end of 2009. Deposits grew $71.7 million, or 7.6 percent, over a year ago. Demand deposits grew $51.6 million or 22.4 percent over a year ago and comprised 27.8 percent of total deposits at Dec. 31, 2010.

In the fourth quarter, the bank declared and paid an increased quarterly cash dividend of 16 cents per share, up from 15 cents in the previous quarter.

Total loans reached $941.4 million on Dec. 31, 2010, representing an increase of $23.7 million or 2.6 percent from a year before.

Late last week, Bank of Marin stock was trading at $36.65. The 52 week range was $30.08 - $37.72

“Everything is going well,” said Mr. Pelham. “We have great people in Napa and they have good loyal relationships. We are committed to having a very strong presence in Sonoma and Napa.