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SoFi plans to acquire community bank to speed up bank-charter process

Social Finance Inc. plans to acquire a small community bank as it seeks to “accelerate” its own process of obtaining a bank charter.

The company, better known as SoFi, announced Tuesday morning that it has agreed to purchase Golden Pacific Bancorp Inc. for $2.55 a share in cash, or $22.3 million in aggregate.

The acquisition is intended to help SoFi in its process of getting a national bank charter. As SoFi moves to acquire Golden Pacific, it plans to change its current bank application to a “change of control” application rather than going through the “de novo” application process, which could be slower.

“We are thrilled to have found a partner in Golden Pacific Bank to both accelerate our pursuit to establish a national bank subsidiary, as well as begin to expand our offerings in SoFi’s financial products and Galileo’s technology platform to serve local communities,” SoFi Chief Executive Anthony Noto said in a press release, referring to the company’s Galileo suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) for payments and other fintech services.

Golden Pacific has about $150 million in assets and three branches in California. SoFi intends to kick in $750 million in capital if approved for the bank charter and plans to maintain the community-bank business while also embarking on its “national, digital business plan,” the company said in its release.

SoFi received preliminary conditional approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on its “de novo” charter application in October and plans to deliver and updated business plan in conjunction with Golden Pacific Bank, which is already regulated by the OCC. SoFi expects that a bank charter will enable it to make loans and take deposits more efficiently.

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SoFi is soon headed for the public markets through a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. V,

a special-purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC). The deal, announced in January, assigns a post-money equity value of $8.65 billion to SoFi.

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