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Mechanics Bank Announces
Retirement of CEO Steve Buster

Change at the top becomes effective at year-end

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WALNUT CREEK, CA, November 21, 2012 — Mechanics Bank announced today that Steven Buster has elected to retire at the end of 2012, ending an eight-year tenure as President and CEO of Northern California's largest independent community bank.

"Under Steve's leadership, Mechanics Bank has remained remarkably steady throughout a challenging global financial crisis that crippled many financial institutions, a changing regulatory environment, and uncertain economic conditions," said Mechanics Bank Chairman Dianne Daiss Felton. "Our deposit base has continued to expand, reflecting the trust clients and the community have placed in our bank. Capital strength, shareholder loyalty and employee commitment have remained solid, earnings have rebounded to a healthy level, and we've achieved prudent growth. I want to express the gratitude of our board of directors and shareholders for Steve's role in these achievements, and wish him great success as he embarks on a new phase of his career."

In announcing his decision, Mr. Buster said, "I am not objective, but I believe Mechanics Bank is the finest bank in California. It has been a privilege to lead this wonderful organization through both the best of times and the worst of times for our industry. Our success is owed to the resilience and quality of our management team and our owner family stewardship. Mechanics Bank has always remained profitable, paid steady dividends and maintained the highest standards while consistently investing in better ways to serve clients, including new online and mobile banking technology."

Mechanics Bank Vice Chairman Michael Downer also credited Mr. Buster with numerous achievements as CEO. "During 'The Great Recession', the bank preserved shareholder value by never participating in TARP or government bailouts," he pointed out. "We invested in new technology solutions which have improved the client experience, even as competitors found it necessary to cut capital expenditures. Under Steve's leadership, the Administrative Headquarters was moved to Walnut Creek in late 2011, consolidating departments and improving operational efficiency. And, the financial condition of Mechanics Bank in 2012 demonstrates strong liquidity, deep capital and improved loan quality. These are achievements for which we're very grateful."

Mr. Buster announced that subsequent to retiring from the bank, he will become Chairman of Previvo Genetics, a company he founded with his brother, John E. Buster, M.D. Previvo Genetics is engaged in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis assuring healthier children for couples with high risk for genetic diseases.

"I have always wanted to exercise my entrepreneurial spirit," said Mr. Buster. "I'm excited by the prospect of supporting my brother's game-changing medical technology--the perfect opportunity to contribute to a healthier existence for generations to come. With the Bank having emerged to a strong and prosperous future, now is a good time to exit and pursue the next chapter of my career."

In addition to his leadership at Mechanics Bank, Mr. Buster recently served as Chairman of the California Bankers Association and as the Western (District 5) Representative to the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. Earlier in his career, he was with U.S. Trust Company, Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore and First Interstate Bank in London and Los Angeles. He also served as Chief Operating Officer for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office for two years.

During the search for a successor, Kirsten Weisser, Executive Vice President, Wealth Management, and Richard Stephenson, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and Risk Officer, will share the duties of the Office of the President. Both are veterans at Mechanics Bank.

About Mechanics Bank

For more than a century, Mechanics Bank has been committed to helping people build prosperous communities as a trusted financial partner, forging lasting relationships through teamwork, respect and integrity. The bank has consistently been recognized as one of the Top 100 Corporate Philanthropists in the Bay Area and one of the Best Places to Work in the Bay Area. The $3 billion independent bank, headquartered in Richmond, California, offers personal banking, business banking, trust and wealth management services across Northern California. For more information, please visit

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Ms. Hatti Hamlin