Mechanics Bank CEO retires after 8 years

Richmond-based Mechanics Bank said Wednesday that its CEO, Steve Buster, has decided to retire as the top boss of the community bank, which is more than a century old.

"It has been a privilege to lead this wonderful organization through both the best of times and the worst of times for our industry," Buster said.

Under Buster's leadership, the Richmond-based bank has managed to churn out a string of profits, despite the devastation unleashed on numerous financial institutions during the recession.

The bank also moved its administrative headquarters to Walnut Creek, although the corporate headquarters remain in Richmond.

Mechanics Bank also gained some notoriety during Buster's tenure when it refused to accept cash from the federal government under the Treasury Departments Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as TARP.

Buster will become chairman of Previvo Genetics, a company he co-founded with his brother.

Previvo Genetics is engaged in genetic diagnosis to help assure healthier children for couples with a high risk for genetic diseases.

Blackhawk makes cards available

Pleasanton-based Blackhawk Network, which provides prepaid and financial payment products, and Univision, a media company that serves Latinos, said they will team up to make a Univision MasterCard prepaid card available in select grocery outlets in California and Texas.


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This will mark the first time that the Univision MasterCard prepaid card will be available for purchase at retail. Customers will be able to purchase the card off the store rack during their grocery shopping.

Until now, the cards were only made available for purchase online and by phone.

Energy Recovery draws takeover interest

San Leandro-based Energy Recovery, which supplies equipment to the desalination industry, said it's a possible takeover target amid booming global water demand.

"There are a lot of industrial concerns that are looking at us," Energy Recovery CEO Tom Rooney said in a telephone interview this week. "We don't really want to be bought out." The Energy Recovery CEO didn't identify any potential buyers.

More than 100 desalination projects are being studied worldwide, the CEO said. Energy Recovery fits plants built by Spain-based Acciona and Connecticut-based General Electric with a pressure exchanger.

The device reduces power costs when filtering seawater through membranes to produce tap water.

Energy Recovery commands more than 90 percent of that market, Rooney said.

-- Staff