By Leon Worden/SCVNEWS.com
The Bank of Santa Clarita announced the sudden departure Monday of its founding president, James D. Hicken.
The bank made the announcement in a brief statement that came after the end of the business day. Bank officials could not be reached after hours for comment.
Hicken served as president and CEO since the bank opened in 2004, with Frank Di Tomaso serving as chairman of the board. Monday’s announcement said Di Tomaso will assume the role of chief executive on an interim basis until a replacement is found.
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“We, the Board of Directors, thank Jim for his long service in establishing the Bank of Santa Clarita as the leading independent bank in the Santa Clarita community,” Di Tomaso said in the statement. “We wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors.”
Hicken is one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s most prominent and visible bankers. The SCV Zonta Club honored him last fall for his philanthropy at a fundraiser where Hicken helped raise money to improve the status of women.
Hicken held executive roles at Union Bank and Valencia National Bank before leaving to form the Santa Clarita Valley’s only locally headquartered bank. Over the past eight years he helped grow the bank into a full-service deposit and lending institution with branches on Magic Mountain Parkway and Golden Valley Road.
Last year the bank announced plans to move its headquarters out of a commercial strip center in Valencia and build its own, self-standing headquarters building in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The bank’s most recent balance sheet showed improvement, with net earnings of $223,000 for the quarter ending Feb. 29, versus $104,000 for the same period in 2010.
However, full-year profits lagged. Net earnings for all of 2011 were $381,000, compared to $569,000 for 2010. The decrease was attributed primarily to a $250,000 penalty for the early termination of the lease on the current headquarters building as the bank prepares to build.