• Florida bank has said it’s in discussions with possible buyer
  • Deal would give TIAA a platform for business, personal loans

TIAA is in talks to buy EverBank Financial Corp., the largest Florida-based lender by deposits, to expand in internet banking, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.

EverBank was in advanced negotiations to sell itself to a “well-respected financial-services company” for $19.50 a share along with payments to holders of preferred stock, the company said last week in a statement that didn’t identify the potential buyer. TIAA’s involvement was reported earlier Wednesday by Reuters, which said the deal could be worth about $2.5 billion.

The acquisition would add to TIAA’s wealth-management business and give the financial-services firm, led by former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson, a platform to provide personal and business loans in the U.S. EverBank is primarily an online bank with about 3,000 employees and just 12 branches at the end of last year.

A spokesman for Jacksonville-based EverBank, declined to comment, as did a TIAA spokeswoman.

EverBank shares, which surged 13 percent on July 25 after Bloomberg reported a possible sale, added 3 percent to $18.55 at 10:32 a.m. in New York. The stock has climbed 16 percent this year.

Online Bank

EverBank, which went public in 2012, provides personal and business loans across the U.S. and operates a wealth-management division. The firm had $27.4 billion of assets and $18.8 billion of deposits as of June 30. Its name also adorns the stadium that’s home to the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Small and mid-size lenders are facing increasing pressure to sell or merge with rivals to better handle compliance costs associated with increased regulatory scrutiny brought by the financial crisis. F.N.B. Corp. agreed to buy Yadkin Financial Corp. for about $1.4 billion on July 21, while Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said in June that it planned to buy Chicago-based PrivateBancorp Inc. for $3.8 billion.

EverBank was among a number of small lenders that raised money from private-equity firms to stabilize balance sheets after the crisis. Its two largest investors are buyout firm Sageview Capital LP, which held more than 8 percent of its outstanding common shares as of March 31, and funds managed by TPG Capital Management LP, which held about 7 percent, according to a proxy filing.

TIAA is known for providing insurance and retirement products to teachers and other employees of not-for-profit institutions. The company has been diversifying operations under Ferguson, buying wealth-management technology firm MyVest in June to help TIAA streamline its interactions with clients about personal finance and acquiring Nuveen Investments in 2014 for more than $6 billion to expand in mutual funds.

TIAA, which had $861 billion of assets under management at the end of March, has no publicly traded stock. The company is among not-for-profit insurers that have been expanding in recent years through acquisitions, winning market share from publicly traded firms. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. agreed in February to purchase a network of about 4,000 financial advisers from MetLife Inc., while New York Life Insurance Co. has been buying boutique asset managers including IndexIQ, pushing the firm into exchange-traded funds and increasing offerings for retail investors.

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