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Big names back local bank plan

Some big names in the bay area civic circle are backing a proposed downtown Tampa bank that will file an application today with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.

"We felt that the Tampa Bay area needed a relationship bank that is locally owned and designed for local business owners," said bank director Marty Traber, partner with Foley & Lardner.

The star-studded group of organizers includes philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel, Sykes Enterprises founder John Sykes and Renaissance Steel CEO Frank Sanchez.

The group plans to raise $15-million to $18-million in capital and open the bank's first office in April at 400 N Ashley Drive. The target market is businesses with less than $50-million in revenue, in addition to individuals.

"That's the sweet spot for a commercial bank, the small to mid-sized business," said Monty Weigel, president and CEO.

Weigel is a former president of SunTrust Bank of Northwest Florida and was an organizer and president of Gulf Atlantic Financial Group, selling his interest to Florida Capital Bank and staying on as Tampa Bay president until last year.

He said he has recruited a strong executive team to run the bank and two of the other organizers and directors have substantial banking experience: Gene Marshall, retired senior vice president of JPMorganChase, and John Hashagen, former CEO of SunTrust Bank Miami.

Other prominent organizers have made their names outside the world of banking.

Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel, announced an $18.5-million gift last year to the University of South Florida for the Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions. They also have been major donors to health care and the arts.

Sykes is the former CEO of Sykes Enterprises, a Tampa company that provides customer service through a global network of call centers. It had $495-million in revenue last year.

Traber is a securities lawyer well known for his work with technology companies.

Sanchez has been involved in politics on local, state and national levels, from running for mayor of Tampa three years ago to serving as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Transportation during the Clinton Administration.

Other directors include Simone Gans Barefield, CEO of Gans, Gans & Associates, an executive search firm; Pablo Santa Cruz, technology entrepreneur; Paresh Patel, a hedge fund manager; Gregory Politis, a Safety Harbor developer; Kiran Patel; Politis; Sanchez; and Weigel. Bayfront Health Foundation chairman Mark Berset and Sykes are organizers but will not serve as directors.

Helen Huntley can be reached at hhuntley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8230.

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