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Big Exit, Big Opportunity

The end of the BankAtlantic community bank era in Florida means big opportunity for its buyer, North Carolina-based BB&T. Its acquisition of the Fort Lauderdale-based lender shoots it from 11th in deposit market share in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach to sixth. The deal turns the BB&T south Florida region, based in Fort Lauderdale, into the bank’s biggest as measured by deposits, number of clients and number of branches. “That’s very exciting,” says BB&T south Florida President Mike Oster.

BankAtlantic, unprofitable and under regulatory pressure over bad real estate loans, was sold in August by its parent, now renamed BBX Capital, for a $301 million premium over its net assets. With the deal, BB&T’s total branches in the region climbed to 150, 21 of which it says are duplicative and will close. As of early August, 650 BankAtlantic workers had jobs at BB&T, but it notified the state it would lay off up to 365 others, mostly support staff from BankAtlantic’s headquarters operation. BB&T also is settling the issue of taking over the naming rights at the BankAtlantic Center, the Sunrise concert center and home to the NHL Florida Panthers. It will be the first major sports league arena with the BB&T name.

In the years before the recession, BankAtlantic tried to establish its brand on convenience, with Sunday hours and some branches open 24 hours. BB&T historically has closed branches on Sunday and will move the old BankAtlantic branches to that model. But customers will see the full range of banking products and services that a top 20 bank nationally can provide that a community bank lacks the scale to offer, Oster says.

BB&T also will be making decisions on what BankAtlantic community involvement to continue. “We’ll have to pick and choose. We’re going to be very involved,” Oster says.

County Share of State Deposits

County Offices Deposits Market Share
Palm Beach 481 $37.9 B 9.22%
Broward 478 $37.6 B 9.15%
Indian River 60 $3.6 B .87%
Martin 62 $3.4 B .84%
St. Lucie 77 $3.3 B .80%
Okeechobee 10 $472 M .11%
Total 1,168 $86.3 B 20.99%
Source: FDIC