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November 26, 2015

Florida Banks

Snapshots from the Vault

The new shape of the Florida banking industry is emerging. All sectors aren't being created equal.

Mike Vogel | 10/10/2011

Young and Hungry

At the new First National Bank of the Gulf Coast, Gary Tice has pulled together the familiar faces that helped him build his previous bank, First National Bank of Florida, into the $5.5-billion-asset institution he sold in 2005 for $1.5 billion, avoiding the industry debacle that followed three years later.

Tice's new venture is just one of several young-gun institutions with plenty of capital and no legacy real estate problems. Run by seasoned banking executives, the young and hungry banks are on the prowl for acquisitions. In a new wrinkle in Florida, private equity firms play a prominent role backing some of the new ventures. The lead investors in a $148-million private placement for Tice's new bank, for example, were private equity firms Lightyear Capital of New York and GMT Capital of Atlanta.

Other relatively new banks include American Momentum Bank in Tampa, founded by Texan Donald Adam. In its marketing, American Momentum touts its fresh start with $100 million in capital, the largest startup equity of any financial institution in Florida history, it says. This year, American Momentum bought the assets of failed LandMark Bank in Sarasota and SouthShore Community Bank in Apollo Beach.

Jorge Gonzalez
CEO Jorge Gonzalez plans to expand City National Bank of Florida in southeast Florida and Orlando. Caja Madrid bought the bank in 2008. [Photo: Bob Soto]
On the opposite coast, longtime Florida community banker J. Hal Roberts and his group bought the four-branch First Bank and Trust Co. of Indiantown, renamed it Harbor Community Bank and have opened new branches, added 22 employees and agreed to acquire $430 million-in-assets Grand Bank & Trust in West Palm Beach.

Tice says more mergers are ahead. "Community banking is still alive and well in the Florida market, and I think it's essential to the Florida economy," Tice says.

Meanwhile, another group of hungry banks — Spanish savings banks called cajas — continues to expand in Florida via U.S. banks they've purchased. City National Bank of Florida, founded by the Abess family and sold in 2008 to Spain's Caja Madrid, now counts itself among the largest Florida-based banks. It plans to expand in southeast Florida and Orlando, says CEO Jorge Gonzalez.

Sabadell United, born of the 2010 acquisition of Mellon United National Bank in Miami by Spain's Banco Sabadell, is also on a growth curve. Sabadell bought failed Lydian Private Bank in Palm Beach from the FDIC in August. CEO Mario Trueba wants to expand the $2.5-billion-in-assets Sabadell United in southeast Florida and is interested in Tampa and Orlando and acquisitions.

Tags: Banking & Finance

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