Cathay General Bancorp is the holding company for Cathay Bank, which mainly serves Chinese and Vietnamese communities from some 30 branches in California, and about 20 more in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and Texas. It also has a branch in Hong Kong, and offices in Shanghai, and Taipei. Catering to small businesses and low- to middle-income consumers, the bank offers standard deposit services and loans. Commercial mortgages account for more than half of the bank's portfolio; business loans comprise more than 20%. The bank's Cathay Wealth Management unit offers online stock trading, mutual funds, and other investment products and services through an agreement with PrimeVest.
Although revenues remained rather steady, the company reported a net loss in 2009, mainly attributable to an increase in credit losses. Many of Cathay General's loans are secured by real estate in California, and the downturn in the real estate market hurt the company as the value of the collateral underlying the loans plummeted. In 2010 the company entered into a memorandum of understanding with the FDIC to reduce its concentration of commercial real estate loans, improve its capital ratios, reduce overall risk, and strengthen asset quality. The moves helped the company to cut its losses that year, even though revenues were down.
Despite its troubles in the loan department, Cathay General has been growing deposits. It has also expanded geographically beyond its home state of California, mainly through acquisitions. The company bought New York's Great Eastern Bank and Illinois-based New Asia Bancorp in 2006, while the 2007 purchase of United Heritage Bank gave the company its first branch in New Jersey. However, as part of its agreement with the FDIC, Cathay General is restricted from opening new branches or entering new business lines until the memorandum is lifted. – less