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PNC enters Tampa Bay market, buying 19 BankAtlantic branches

Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank is making its first foray into the Tampa Bay market, buying all 19 of BankAtlantic's branches, $350 million in deposits and two related facilities in the region.

The deal announced Monday represents two banks going opposite directions.

Fort Lauderdale-based Bank­Atlantic, part of BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc., has been struggling and disclosed in August that it was retrenching to focus on its core South Florida market. Bank ratings agency BauerFinancial gives BankAtlantic two out of five stars, which signifies "problematic."

PNC, meanwhile, is viewed as financially stable, rating 31/2 stars. The institution has been long expected to build on a Florida foothold it made in 2008 through its acquisition of Cleveland-based National City Corp.

PNC currently has about 100 branches in Florida, most along the East Coast corridor from Fort Lauderdale to just east of Orlando. It also has 14 stand-alone mortgage offices in the state, including one at Tampa's Rocky Point.

PNC president Joseph C. Guyaux said the move into the Tampa Bay area not only helps the bank leverage other branches in Florida, but also fuels its wealth management and corporate banking units.

PNC agreed to pay what's considered a hefty 10 percent premium for the deposits it assumed plus net book value of the acquired real estate and fixed assets, according to regulatory filings. The bank also agreed to offer jobs to BankAtlantic employees at the purchased branches and facilities.

Not long ago, BankAtlantic was on an expansion spree on Florida's West Coast. In three years, it more than doubled its branch network in the region to 19 locations, but it put a halt to opening new branches in 2009 as its financial woes accelerated. It became one of the biggest money-losing banks in the state and shed more than 1,000 workers as it tried to recover from heavy real estate losses.

The deal with PNC is anticipated to close in June, subject to regulatory approval.

The banks said the 19 affected branches will operate normally through completion of the transaction. Customers of these branches need not take any action now, the banks said. They will be contacted by PNC before the branch transfer.

PNC enters Tampa Bay market, buying 19 BankAtlantic branches 01/31/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 2:11pm]
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