The bank considered strategic alternatives as part of a preliminary process and will instead focus on building its business in Florida, Miami Lakes-based BankUnited said yesterday in a statement. Offers for the bank came in too low, said people with knowledge of the situation, who declined to be identified because the talks were private. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and BB&T Corp. (BBT) were among companies in discussions to buy the lender, people with knowledge of the matter said this week.
BankUnited was among U.S. lenders that failed during the housing market’s collapse, prompting regulators to seize its operations and sell most of them in 2009 to a group of private- equity investors including Chief Executive Officer John Kanas. The group pumped about $900 million into the lender and got the FDIC to agree to absorb losses on some mortgage assets before an initial public offering.
BankUnited had asked for offers by Jan. 17, telling potential buyers it aimed to reach a sale agreement within about two weeks, people said earlier this week.
Donna Butler, a BankUnited spokeswoman, declined to comment on offers for the lender. Maria Leung, a spokeswoman for Toronto-based TD Bank, declined to comment. Cynthia Williams at BB&T declined to comment.
“They were likely looking for a very big price,” said Ken Thomas, a Miami-based banking consultant and economist. “It is one of the two premium franchises in South Florida.”
BankUnited has more than $11 billion of assets and said in yesterday’s statement that deposits grew to $7.4 billion in the fourth quarter. It had 95 branches at year-end. The bank is Florida’s second-biggest by deposits after Jacksonville-based EverBank Financial Corp., according to data compiled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. BankAtlantic Bancorp (BBX) is the other premium franchise in South Florida, Thomas said.
Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group LP, WL Ross & Co. and Centerbridge Capital Partners LLC still hold stakes in BankUnited totaling more than 50 percent, based on regulatory filings compiled by Bloomberg. The investors raised about $900 million in an IPO last January, triple what the bank had registered to sell.