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Robert Trigaux

One of Florida's own, ex-BofA exec Gene Taylor, leads group prowling for weak banks



Genetaylorhughmccoll1998kenhelle Wake up and good morning. Gene Taylor sure has come a long way from his aw-shucks days growing up on the Florida Panhandle and even from his time spent running NationsBank Florida (which became part of  Bank of America) in Tampa. Well, Gene's retired from Bank of America but he's a got a brand new gig, perhaps refocused on Florida.

(This 1998 photo of Gene Taylor (left) with then NationsBank CEO Hugh McColl Jr. during a visit in Tampa. Photo by Ken Helle of the St. Petersburg Times.)

Turns out Taylor, who worked at BofA and its predecessors for 38 years, is leading a new investment group on the prowl for troubled banks to take over and reinvigorate. And former boss McColl happens to be part of that investment group.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Taylor is part of a group called North American Financial Holdings that has raised $550 million for a blind pool that will invest in the U.S. banking industry. Taylor's investment vehicle was underwritten by an Arlington, Va., firm called FBR Capital Markets Corp., according to the JournalHere is the Wall Street Journal story.

North American Financial Holdings reportedly includes other former Bank of America executives. While the Journal does not name names, a Charlotte Observer story does. The story -- here it is -- says Chris Marshall is the chief financial officer, and former corporate and investment banking executive Bill Hodges is a board member. One of the investors is New York private-equity firm Crestview Partners whose partners, former Bank of America executive Rich DeMartini, will sit on the board of the investment vehicle. And DeMartini is also a director of FBR Capital. It's all about connections.

And what of McColl's role in all this? Charlotte private-equity firm Falfurrias Capital Partnersis also an investor, Falfurrias co-founder Marc Oken tells the Observer. And the other co-founder of Falfurrias is...  former Bank of America chief executive Hugh McColl Jr. (Falfurrias just happens to operate from the 51st floor of the Bank of America Corporate Center.)

Taylor was tapped earlier this year to be CEO in a private-equity deal to buy First Southern Bank, based in Boca Raton, Fla. That deal, which included New York private-equity firms Lightyear Capital LLC, Crestview Partners LP and Fortress Investment Group LLC, fell apart over regulatory issues.

Be assured 2010 will be a busy year of such private investment groups taking over numerous Florida banks.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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