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Bank awakes investor spirits

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  • | 3:48 a.m. April 29, 2011
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Here's another sign that the economic recovery on the Gulf Coast is well under way.

First National Bank of the Gulf Coast, headed by veteran bankers Gary Tice and Garrett Richter, raised $148 million in a private placement. The bankers plan to use some of the proceeds to bid on failed banks and make strategic acquisitions on the Gulf Coast, from Tampa to Naples.

Tice currently is chairman and CEO and Richter is president of Naples-based First National Bank, which opened in 2009. Tice and Richter, a state senator, built the hugely successful First National Bankshares of Florida, selling it to Fifth Third for $1.58 billion at the peak of the market in 2005.

When they sold FNB for 5.75 times book value, it had $5.5 billion in assets, $3.9 billion in deposits and 77 branches stretching from the Tampa Bay area and Orlando to Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples. They started that bank in 1989 with $7.5 million in capital and made 12 acquisitions.

Besides First National Bank, other banks in Florida have attracted capital lately as investors scout opportunities. These include TIB Bank in Naples, Florida Community Bank in Immokalee and Community Bank of Manatee in Lakewood Ranch.

Sandler O'Neill & Partners led the First National Bank private offering and investors included Lightyear Capital based in New York City and GMT Capital of Atlanta. Representatives from both investment firms will join the bank's board.


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