Monday, October 25, 2010

Good News for Bank Investors

It's looking like a new phase in the consolidation of the banking industry is beginning. Two months ago First Niagara (FNFG) struck a deal to acquire New Alliance Bank (NAB). Now it appears that BankUnited is about to sell equity and begin a takeover campaign of its own. As a bank located in the South, it has lots of weak targets to acquire. The FDIC -- therefore, the taxpayers -- will appreciate the help.

BankUnited to file for IPO this week:

October 25, 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters) - BankUnited, owned by some of the world's most powerful private equity firms, plans to file for a public offering this week, looking to raise roughly $500 million, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

BankUnited plans to use the proceeds from an initial public offering and a secondary offering to buy other banks, one of the sources said.

Private equity firms, including Wilbur Ross's WL Ross & Co, Carlyle Group (CYL.UL), Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX - News) and Centerbridge Partners, bought the assets of failed BankUnited FSB in May last year from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The firms put $900 million in the bank and installed former North Fork Bank head John Kanas as CEO.

The deal, attractive for loss protections from the FDIC, led to a surge of other private investors looking to enter the U.S. banking sector. But it was also followed by tighter regulations, humbling investors' aspirations.

The planned offering would make BankUnited the first major U.S. bank bought by private investors during the recent financial crisis to go public.

BankUnited's existing shareholders plan to sell a small percentage of their holdings, the source said.

The idea is to "raise a little bit of new capital and then the existing shareholders will sell enough to create a decent sized float in the stock," the source said.

BankUnited, based in Miami Lakes, Florida, sees the U.S. Southeast as its primary market but also plans to eventually branch into New York, the source said. The bank has about $11 billion in assets and more than 75 branches.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS - News), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC - News), Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGN.DE - News) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS - News) are underwriting the offering, the source said.

BankUnited declined to comment. The sources are anonymous because the plans are not yet public.

Another source previously told Reuters that an IPO would come at the end of 2010 or in the first quarter of 2011, at the earliest.



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