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Robert Trigaux

Which 25 banks are weakest in Florida, who's strongest in Tampa Bay market?




Is this what strong banks really tell weak banks they are trying to buy behind closed doors?

Wake up and good morning. Here are the 25 "zero star" or lowest rated banks for financial health based in Florida. These banks are rated by Bauer Financial, which uses data the banks themselves supply the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to rank each financial institution from zero star (lowest, often a precursor of failure or forced sale by regulators to another bank) to 5-star (strongest).

A few observations.

* There are no zero star banks (for now) in the entire Tampa Bay area in this latest statewide batch that is based on Sept. 30 quarterly numbers, the most recent available. Heritage Bank in Lutz was the last zero star bank and it has since been closed by regulators and its assets sold to an Arkansas-based bank. Read more here.

* The vast majority of zero star banks listed below are in north Florida, especially on the Panhandle. Are bank regulators giving that area a special break because of the BP oil spill's hit to the local economy? Jacksonville and Tallahassee also have several lowest rated banks yet to be resolved.

* Tampa Bay still is home to a few 1-star banks, some of which may become zero star banks if they cannot improve their financial condition soon. They include First Home Bank in Seminole, Florida Bank in Tampa and Southern Commerce Bank in Tampa. Southern Commerce may have interested buyers now in the form of former Tampa Bay Storm owner Bob Gries and banker Anthony Leo, according to a regulatory with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Read more in this Tampa Bay Business Journal story.

* Kudos to St. Petersburg's Freedom Bank of America, which managed to raise itself from a 1-star to an improved 2-star bank in the quarter ended Sept. 30. That's no easy feat in this still difficult economy.

* Tampa Bay's top rated, 5-star banks include Central Bank in Tampa, Florida Traditions Bank in Dade City, NorthStar Bank in Tampa, Raymond James Bank in St. Petersburg, and TCM Bank in Tampa.

Here are the 25 Florida-based banks rated zero star as of Sept. 30, 2012:

1. Anchor Commercial Bank, Juno Beach

2. Bank of Commerce, Sarasota

3. Bank of Jackson County, Graceville

4. Beach Community Bank, Fort Walton Beach

5. Chipola Community Bank, Marianna

6. Columbia Bank, Lake City

7. Fidelity Bank of Florida, Merritt Island

8. First City Bank of Florida, Fort Walton Beach

9. First Community Bank of Southwest Florida, Fort Myers

10. First National Bank of Crestview, Crestview

11. Florida Capital Bank, Jacksonville

12. Friends Bank, New Smyrna Beach

13. Great Florida Bank, Miami

14. Gulf Coast Community Bank, Pensacola

15. Heritage Bank of North Florida, Orange Park

16. Home Federal Bank of Hollywood, Hallandale

17. Independent Bankers Bank of Florida, Lake Mary

18. Jacksonville Bank, Jacksonville

19. Legacy Bank of Florida, Boca Raton

20. OptimumBank, Plantation

21. Pinnacle Bank, Orange City

22. Premier Bank, Tallahassee

23. ProBank, Tallahassee

24. TransCapital Bank, Sunrise

25. U.S. Century Bank, Miami (on Nov. 30, St. Petersburg's C1 Bank said the state will okay its purchase of U.S. Century. Read more here.)

Bottom line? The Florida banking industry is over the worst of its financial woes but like the rest of the economy has a long way to go. Sure beats this 2009 headline in this Venture blog: "Florida's most troubled banks double to 40 as recession, real estate woes take toll."

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 7:23am]


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