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Robert Trigaux

Bond Street: Buyer of latest failed Florida bank aspires to become state's "next Barnett Bank"



PeninsulabanklogoWake up and good morning. Peninsula Bank in Englewood, just south of Tampa Bay, was shut down and sold by regulators little more than a week after its CEO, Anthony Leo, left the stricken bank to run another troubled institution: Clearwater's Old Harbor Bank. More on that move here. It may be jumping from the pan into the fire, though, since Old Harbor is struggling mightily. More than 50 Florida banks are rated "zero" -- most troubled -- in the latest quarterly ratings. Peninsula and Old Harbor were among them. Here's the list

But that's just a sidebar to the real story happening here.

Premieramericanbankbondsttreetlogo  Peninsula, including its 13 branches, was closed Friday and sold by the FDIC to Premier American Bank of Miami, a bank formed earlier this year from the remains of a failed bank. And who is behind Premier American bank? Bond Street Holdings, a Naples, Florida-based investment firm that was the first to use a regulatory shelf charter, which gave it advance approval to purchase failed lenders.

Peninsula is Bond Street's third failed bank acquisition after buying two banks in January. But it will hardly be its last purchase. And that's why a closer look at Bond Street Holdings is in order. If things go as planned, the group will be a rising power in Florida banking. Consider this recent quote to the Gulf Coast Business Review (story here)  from one of Bond Street's principal's, Daniel Healy, former chief financial officer of North Fork Bancorp who now serves as Premier American Bank CEO:

Danielhealypremeriamericanbondstreet  “Our goal is to be the next Barnett Bank,” says Healy (see photo). Good luck! Any bank based in Florida that grows too big is picked off by a larger bank offering a price the owners can't seem to refuse.

Barnett once based in Jacksonville, was of course the last of the truly large commercial banks to be based in in Florida. It was sold to NationsBank (now Bank of America) in 1997, ending an era of Florida having any substantial banks of its own. The state is now completely dominated by banks based in North Carolina (BofA), California (Wells Fargo operating as Wachovia), Georgia (SunTrust) and others.

Bond Street was formed by a group of former banking executives, regulators and investors from New York City. They raised $440 million last year to buy failed Florida banks from the FDIC, enough capital to create a $4 billion bank by assets. Only a handful of banks headquartered in Florida have more than that sum.

Bond Street executives include Healy; Vincent Tese, the former state superintendent of banks for the State of New York; Leslie Lieberman, former head of Drexel Burnham Lambert’s financial services mergers and acquisitions group and later CEO of the investment-banking arm of Banque Indosuez; and Stuart Oran, a former partner at New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind and a United Airlines executive.

Peninsula, by the way, became the nation's 84th failure of the year (the total now is 86 for the year) and No. 14 in the state of Florida. Here's a chronological list

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 11:00am]


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