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Robert Trigaux

Founder of Tampa's American Momentum Bank turns to Texas roots to fix banking stake



UPDATE: JAN. 18: And the winning bidder for Sterling Bank is.... Comerica. Story here.

american-momentum-bank-florida.jpgWake up and good morning. Tampa Bay readers may have forgotten about Texan Don Adam, who rolled into Tampa in 2006 to set up American Momentum Bank. Adam established the bank with record-setting start-up capital of $100 (a quarter of that would be considered lush), packed his new bank board with big names like USF president Judy Genshaft, Republican heavyweight Mel Sembler and retired U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III, and then later donated a whopping $20 million and change to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Center to help fight melanoma. Adam, who's operated a thoroughbred horse farm called Courtlandt Farms in Ocala since the 1990s, battled melanoma earlier in his life.

Now comes news that one of Adam's Texas investments is wobbly and may be put on the block for sale. Sterling Bancshares Inc., parent of Houston's Sterling Bank, has put itself on the auction block, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bids were due late Thursday, and a sale of the company is expected to be announced as early as next week.

The banking company faces a proxy fight from its largest shareholder: Adam. Through his company, TAC Capital LLC, which controls 9.9 percent of Sterling, Adam is best known in Texas for building First American Bank by acquiring roughly a dozen failed Texas institutions during the late 1980s, and then selling the bank to Citigroup Inc. in 2005 -- just before forming American Momentum in Tampa.

Adam had announced plans to nominate a slate of five directors at Sterling's annual meeting this year. The Journal hints that BB&T and Comerica may be among the banks bidding for Sterling.

Tampa's American Momentum Bank rates "3 stars" from Bauer Financial, which rates the health of banks from zero stars (deep trouble) to 5 stars (strongest).

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 9:23am]


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