OmniAmerican Said to Work With Sandler O’Neill on Sale

OmniAmerican Bancorp Inc., the Texas lender whose stock has more than doubled since going public in 2010, is exploring a sale, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

OmniAmerican is working with Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP to solicit offers, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision by the Fort Worth-based company to seek a buyer is confidential.

With 15 branches and a market capitalization of almost $270 million, OmniAmerican is among mutual savings banks that went public in 2010. The stock climbed 2.7 percent to $23.40 at the close in New York, and has more than doubled from its $10 initial offering price in January of that year. The lenders have to wait three years to solicit takeover offers after converting to stock ownership.

Texas will appeal to potential buyers because the state’s energy industry has kept economic growth and employment there strong, said Terry McEvoy, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. who covers regional banks. Austin, Dallas and Houston had among the lowest levels of unemployment among large metropolitan areas in the U.S. in July, data from the Labor Department show.

“Banks want to be in markets that are growing and Texas is one of them,” McEvoy, who doesn’t cover OmniAmerican, said by phone from Portland, Maine. “There would be a healthy list of interested parties for any bank in Texas, especially in metropolitan markets.”

Randi Mitchell, a spokeswoman for OmniAmerican, declined to comment on the potential sale of the bank, as did David Franecki, a New York-based spokesman for Sandler O’Neill, which specializes in financial firms.

Texas Deals

Potential buyers include BB&T Corp., based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Dallas-based Hilltop Holdings Inc., which are looking to expand, McEvoy said.

David White, a spokesman for BB&T, said that the company doesn’t comment on speculation. Erik Yohe at Hilltop Holdings also declined to comment.

Citigroup Inc. is seeking buyers for 50 of its Texas branches, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said last week. Houston-based Prosperity Bancshares Inc. said on Aug. 29 that it agreed to acquire Tulsa, Oklahoma-based F&M Bancorporation Inc. after completing six other acquisitions in the last two years.

OmniAmerican Shareholders

OmniAmerican had total assets of $1.32 billion and deposits of $818 million at the end of June, according to a statement last month. The lender’s profit fell to $674,000 in the second quarter, down 53 percent from a year earlier, it said, citing higher provisioning against bad loans and lower yields on interest-earning assets.

Among the bank’s largest shareholders is Michael Price, who runs MFP Investors LLC. Price, who made his name buying shares of beaten-down lenders, owns about 4.8 percent of the bank, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The biggest holder is Wellington Management Co. with a 10 percent stake, followed by OmniAmerican’s 401(k) profit sharing and employee stock ownership plans with a combined 9.4 percent, and Sandler O’Neill’s asset-management unit with 6.97 percent, according to the company’s proxy statement, which cited March 28 data.

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