A National Award-Winning Publication

Interview: BMO bank acquisition may open new doors for Latinos

Negocios Now interviews Adela Cepeda, a Director of BMO Harris Bank, about the recent acquisition of Bank of the West for $16 billion

By David Steinkraus –

When BMO Harris and its parent company, BMO Financial Corp., announced the acquisition of Bank of the West on Monday, it came as no surprise to longtime Chicago businesswoman Adela Cepeda.

As a director of BMO Financial Corp. and chair of its board’s capital committee, she knew the announcement was coming.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this,“ Cepeda told Negocios Now from her Chicago office on Tuesday. “BMO has been looking to expand its US presence for years now, and this is the perfect partner to expand with.”

The two banks are both more than a century old, she said, and so they share a culture of prudence and efficiency.

Latino opportunities

It’s too early to say what effect the acquisition will have for Latino businesses, Cepeda said. But BMO is very sensitive to promoting opportunities for underserved markets, she added.

BMO has committed to spend more than $5 billion over five years to address barriers faced by minority businesses and families through lending, investing, and giving, according to the press release.

Cepeda also runs Angeles Investors, a nonprofit that specializes in gathering angel investors to support Latino companies and entrepreneurs. Angeles is already national, she said, and it will be great to work more closely with BMO to find opportunities for her entrepreneurs in states where BMO is gaining a presence.


Under the acquisition agreement announced on Monday, BMO will acquire Bank of the West for $16.3 billion in cash from its France-based parent company BNP Paribas. BMO will fund the purchase primarily with excess capital, said a press release from the company.

BMO’s strength, shown on a map of its branches, is clustered around Chicago, and spreads into Wisconsin, Indiana, and a bit in Minnesota and Arizona. Bank of the West has branches in California and the Pacific Northwest, in the mountain states of the West, and through the Great Plains.

So the acquisition allows BMO to enter very attractive markets such as California and the Northwest, Cepeda said.

A presentation for BMO investors shows that the acquisition will give BMO branches in four big cities with growth above the national average: San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Denver.

Bank of the West is based in San Francisco, and as of Sept. 30, it had $105 billion in assets and $89 billion in deposits. More than 80% of those deposits are from California, Colorado, and Oregon. About 70% of deposits are from only California.

As of Oct. 31, BMO was the eighth-largest bank in North America as measured by its total assets of $988 billion. The new acquisition makes BMO one of the top 5 largest banks in North America.