First Hawaiian Climbs in Debut After IPO Prices at Top of Range

  • IPO part of BNP’s plan to reinforce its core capital level
  • Hawaiian unit has few ties with rest of BNP’s U.S. business

First Hawaiian CEO: Why We Decided to Go Public Now

First Hawaiian Inc. jumped in its trading debut after its owner, French bank BNP Paribas SA, raised $485 million by selling a stake through an initial public offering.

The Honolulu-based consumer bank climbed 6.2 percent to $24.43 as of 12:00 p.m. in New York. First Hawaiian sold 21.09 million shares for $23 apiece in its IPO, according to a statement Wednesday, after offering them for $21 to $23. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and BNP managed the sale.

The shares are listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker FHB.

BNP Paribas, which still owns about 85 percent of First Hawaiian, plans to sell the rest of the business to reinforce its core reserves. Like other big banks, BNP is strengthening its capital position in response to harsher regulatory requirements. After the disposal, it will still be one of the rare European lenders with a sizable U.S. retail presence through its San Francisco-based division Bank of the West, which is active in 23 states, according to the website.

‘Development Ambitions’

“It’s a very nice asset, but with very little synergies with the rest of their retail activities in the U.S.,” said Pierre Chedeville, a Paris-based analyst at CM-CIC Market Solutions with a buy rating on BNP shares. “Even with this disposal, BNP Paribas keeps its development ambitions in the U.S.”

Underwriters have a 30-day option to buy an additional 3.16 million shares, potentially reducing BNP’s holding to 82.6 percent. Proceeds from the IPO will boost the bank’s common equity Tier 1 capital ratio by 5 basis points to 6 basis points in the third quarter, in line with its December guidance of an increase of about 40 basis points from the disposal of its Hawaiian assets, the French bank said in a statement Thursday.

Chief Executive Officer Jean-Laurent Bonnafe said at a news conference last week that the bank isn’t under any “particular pressure” to sell First Hawaiian and that the disposal may run “a bit beyond” 2017, depending on market conditions. The bank hasn’t said how it intends to offload the rest of the unit or whether the process will involve more public share sales.

BNP Paribas posted a second-quarter profit of 2.56 billion euros ($2.85 billion), beating analyst estimates, as a surge in bond trading outweighed a decline in equities. Its CET1 ratio, a measure of financial strength, rose to 11.1 percent from 11 percent at the end of March. Return on equity, a key profitability measure, was 9.7 percent in the first half.

First Hawaiian, founded in 1858, is Hawaii’s oldest bank, according to its website. Its lending and deposit activities are still mostly focused on the state, where it has 57 branches. It also has operations in the U.S. islands of Guam and Saipan.

The unit posted net income of $213.8 million last year, down 1.3 percent from 2014. Net interest income climbed 3.9 percent in 2015 to $461.3 million. Total assets were $19.1 billion at the end of March.

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