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Robert Trigaux

BankUnited raises doubts "as a going concern"



Yet another sign of Florida's banking stress is this story in the Miami Herald that BankUnited Financial, a Coral Gables thrift holding company and Florida's largest bank, expects to report a loss of about $327-million for its fourth quarter. And -- here's the kicker -- it's warning its loss could be substantially worse, raising "substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern." It announced a modest number of layoffs last week.

BankUnited is one of 11 banks in Florida with a "zero star" ranking by Bauer Financial, which means these institutions are in serious financial shape and may face regulatory action soon. Here a closer look at an earlier blog posting on the topic of Florida bank health.

BankUnited told the Herald says it's negotiating with an unidentified "fund"' to raise capital and restructure its balance sheet but added it can't be sure negotiations will succeed. The company's disclosures were made in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, said its ability to continue as a going concern depends on how much it decides it must set aside for loan losses and on whether its ongoing efforts to raise new capital are successful. BankUnited CEO Ramiro Ortiz told the local newspaper: "I'm very optimistic about our negotiations with a private capital fund."

BankUnited was profiled in August in a New York Times story that outlined the institution's serious challenges. BankUnited operates three Tampa Bay area branches in Clearwater, Carrollwood and Sun City Center.

BankUnited shares traded at $8 a year ago. As of Wednesday morning, the stock was at 26 cents.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:23am]


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