Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Four Florida Banks among the Fastest-Growing Lenders

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Four Florida Banks among the Fastest-Growing Lenders

Article excerpt

FOUR FLORIDA BANKS, ALL BIG players in the acquisition game, rank among the fastest-growing U.S. lenders over the last five years.

And all four got there by striking deals in Southwest Florida for either healthy or failed banks.

FCB Financial Holdings, the parent of Florida Community Bank, was the fifth-fastest growing bank over the five-year period ended in second-quarter 2014, analyst SNL Financial found. FCB stood at $5.6 billion in assets, a 1,274 percent growth rate.

The Weston-based company has bought eight banks, including the closed Peninsula Bank of Englewood in June 2010.

C1 Financial Inc. of St. Petersburg ranked sixth in growth with assets of $1.4 billion, a 472 percent increase.

C1 was founded in 1995 as Community Bank of Manatee and, and after an investor takeover, relocated from Lakewood Ranch in 2012. It has since bought two struggling banks and one failed lender.

Stonegate Bank of Fort Lauderdale was the 12th fastest-growing bank, with $1.6 billion in assets representing a 340 percent gain since 2009, SNL said.

Its deals include the former Florida Shores Bank-Southwest of Venice, a healthy institution whose parent was acquired in January for $49 million.

Coral Gables-based Capital Bank Financial Corp. came in 17th, with $6.6 billion in assets showing a 268 percent growth rate.

Also formed by deep-pocketed investors, its seven acquisitions included the former TIB Bank of Naples, which has previously bought the Bank of Venice.

Subhead

Florida's economic recovery got off to a slow start, but economists at Wells Fargo Securities say it is now firmly on track.

The state's economic growth has been led by international trade, tourism, construction and professional and technical services, senior economist Mark Vitner and his team said in their latest "Florida Economic Outlook" report.

"We are more optimistic about Florida's prospects than any time going back to the 1990s," Vitner wrote. "Growth is being driven more by improving fundamentals as opposed to easy credit or the overly aggressive use of incentives. Florida has regained its position as one of the nation's best places to do business, with a relatively low cost of living and incredibly diverse and highly desirable quality of life. …

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