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Tampa’s Pilot Bank selling to Michigan credit union in $96 million deal

Lake Michigan Credit Union is expected to take over later this year.
Tampa-based Pilot Bank is being sold to Lake Michigan Credit Union in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Tampa-based Pilot Bank is being sold to Lake Michigan Credit Union in Grand Rapids, Mich. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Jun. 17
Updated Jun. 17

Tampa’s Pilot Bank is being sold to a credit union in Michigan, the companies announced Monday.

In an all-cash deal, Lake Michigan Credit Union will pay $6.25 per share for Pilot Bank, which has six locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties. Based on the number of outstanding shares, that works out to more than $96 million. Stock options would raise it to around $100 million.

Pilot Bank CEO and chairperson Roy Hellwege said the deal has been in the works since early 2020, though talks did slow during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our priority as a community bank that’s been serving Tampa for 34 years was making sure that all our constituents really received the maximum attention, meaning our employees, our clients, the Tampa community, our ability to serve, and of course shareholder value,” said Hellwege, who will stay on as Lake Michigan’s Central Florida president. “It’s about as good an outcome as it could be for our team.”

Pilot Bank, which specializes in aircraft financing, has about $656 million in assets. Lake Michigan Credit Union, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., has more than 500,000 members and $10.4 billion in assets.

Pilot Bank president Rita Lowman said she believes the company will retain most of its 74 employees after the sale.

“Our profitability, and how well we’re respected in the community, was an attractiveness to the credit union,” Lowman said. “And they do want to continue to grow in the Florida market.”

Related: Why are banks expanding in Tampa Bay? First Citrus Bank's CEO explains

The sale would give Lake Michigan Credit Union 19 locations in Florida. It already has one Tampa Bay branch in Sun City Center.

“This is another step in our plan to enhance our member value and experience for our many wonderful members that live in or vacation in Florida, including those in this new thriving market, as well as future new members,” Lake Michigan president and CEO Sandy Jelinski said in a statement.

The deal is expected to close in late 2021, pending the approval of Pilot Bank shareholders, who will vote on it in the next three months.

“It was an excellent deal, at $6.25 a share, for our shareholders,” Lowman said. “I’ve only been here for five years, but during that time, it is a record price.”