Magazine article American Banker

Barnett's Deal for Republic in Miami Seen as Bid for Hispanic Customers

Magazine article American Banker

Barnett's Deal for Republic in Miami Seen as Bid for Hispanic Customers

Article excerpt

Buying Miami's Republic Banking Corp. could bolster Barnett Banks' campaign to attract more customers in South Florida's large Hispanic community.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Barnett, which has about $40 billion of assets, said last week that it has an agreement in principle to acquire $1.5 billion-asset Republic for an undisclosed sum.

Although officials from both companies refused to discuss the deal price, published reports put it at about $400 million, or three times Republic's book value.

Despite the high price, analysts said the deal is a good one for Barnett. "It makes tremendous sense," said R. Harold Schroeder of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "It fits a broader strategy of acquiring niche businesses within their marketplace. Given the critical role that Miami plays in Latin America, and trade between the U.S. and Latin America, this is what they need to do."

Indeed, the lure of Republic is its long history of doing business with the Hispanic community and its ties to Latin America. …

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