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Rabobank, N.A. opened a new branch and agribusiness center in downtown Santa Rosa last week, marking a third branch for the bank in the North Bay.

The Roseville-based bank opened the branch to better serve existing clients in Santa Rosa and to help grow an expanding agribusiness lending team lead by Senior Vice President and Agribusiness Manager Charles Day, according to the bank.

“Rabobank has been serving the financing needs of clients in Santa Rosa for years. Opening a branch here will allow us to provide a full range of personal and business banking services and become more involved in the community,” said Dennis Pedisich, regional president, in a written release.

Leading the staff at the new branch will be Ron La Bruzzo, who assumes the role after 32 years of banking experience that includes Great Western Bank, Washington Mutual and Chase.

In the North Bay, the Rabobank Group currently has a lending portfolio of more than $500 million, following a continuing effort to expand in regions with a strong agricultural component, according to the bank.

The bank’s most recent expansion was in January 2011, with the opening of a branch in Sonoma. The now 119-branch bank entered the market through the purchase of the single-branch Napa Community Bank in May 2010.

“In addition to this branch, we will continue to look for opportunities to expand our existing network here in the Wine Country and other regions in our footprint,” said Mr. Pedisich.

Located at 90 South E Street, the new branch is open from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rabobank ,N.A. is part of the Rabobank Group, a Netherlands-based lender with operations in 48 countries. In California, Rabobank, N.A. has approximately 1,900 employees and assets of more than $11 billion.***

Bay Commercial Bank (OTCQB: BCML) has opened a full-service branch in the city of Napa, with a grand opening celebration scheduled for May 16.

The opening marks the completion of a goal to open a branch for the Walnut Creek-based bank in Napa, move that was postponed after an earlier effort to enter the market through the acquisition of the former Charter Oak Bank in late 2010 was not completed. Bay Commercial Bank opened a commercial loan office in the city in 2011, and staff from that office will transition to the new branch.

Lifelong Napa residents Mike Ledwich and Jamie Buffington, hired in 2011 to manage the Napa market, will handle relationship management. Fellow Napan Peggy Chiprez will serve as client services manager.

Bank CEO George Guarini said in a release that the bank currently has assets in excess of $285 million and a capital base of more than $48 million.***

Exchange Bank earned an after-tax profit of nearly $3 million in the first quarter of 2012, virtually the same amount earned during the same quarter in 2011, according to an earnings statement that the bank released today.

The steady profit of $2.95 million was coupled with a reduction to the bank’s provision for loan losses for the same period last year, from $3.25 million to $2.75 million. The bank attributed that reduction to a declining loss exposure in the its loan portfolio and a decline in non-performing assets.

Total assets at the bank increased 7 percent, to $113 million, in the quarter ending March 31, versus the same quarter in 2011. That increase was due to a strong growth in deposits and a modest growth in loans.

“We are pleased to report another steady profitable quarter,” said President and CEO William Schrader, in a written release. “We continue in our efforts to restore asset quality, which remains a challenge during the weak economic recovery.”***

Westamerica Bancorporation (NASDAQ: WABC), the parent company of San Rafael-based Westamerica Bank, earned $21 million in net income in the first quarter of 2012.

Those earnings were lower than first quarter net income in 2011, which was $22.4 million. Yet David Payne, chairman, president and CEO, said that the results still represented an enduring profitability at Westamerica despite the challenges of low interest rates.

The bank earned $21.8 million in the final quarter of 2011. It reduced operating expenses compared to that period by $600,000.

The bank’s provision for loan losses remained unchanged at $2.8 million for the first quarter. Company assets reached $5.1 billion as of March 31, and the bank’s regulatory capital ratio was 15.6 percent.

Diluted earnings per common share were 75 cents for the quarter.***

Redwood Empire Food Bank was selected to receive a $100,000 grant from San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), part of a $320,000 charity effort marking the bank’s 160 year anniversary.

Certain Wells Fargo customers were able to vote at an ATM to determine how the money was allocated.

The largest hunger-relief organization in Sonoma County, Redwood Empire Food Bank provides food to over 78,000 people per month and helps smaller food banks acquire food in Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. The organization provides approximately 28,000 meals every day.***

Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Eric Gneckow, 707-521-4259 eric.gneckow@busjrnl.com.