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Bank deal chatter heats up

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  • | 11:00 a.m. October 9, 2015
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In a nearly two-year run of deals in Florida banking, a large one could be developing.

The possible target: C1 Financial. Rumors that the St. Petersburg-based company's banking subsidiary, C1 Bank, with $1.67 billion in assets through June 30, was up for sale surfaced Sept. 28 in the financial press. By Monday, at least two Wall Street analysts who follow the bank posted reports saying a sale wouldn't be a big surprise.

Shares of the bank (Symbol: BNK, recent price: $19.80) jumped 7% in the days after the stories and reports, on surging trading volume.

C1 chairman Bill Sedgeman referred all questions about the rumors to President and CEO Trevor Burgess. Burgess didn't return calls seeking comment.

A C1 sale could make sense, for multiple reasons, especially in timing.

For starters, the mergers and acquisitions market for banks in Florida has some steam after several down years. There have been at least 20 bank deals in Florida since the start of 2014, according to The Deal, a trade publication. A dozen of those deals have closed in 2015.

Internally, the time might be right for a sale for C1 executives, given how well the bank has done. With 32 locations statewide, C1 was the sixth-fastest growing lender in the country from 2009 to 2014, according to SNL Financial data. It went public Aug. 13, 2014, in an offering that netted $42.3 million. The 10-person board, in addition to Burgess and Sedgeman, includes Alex Sink, former Florida CFO and a onetime Florida gubernatorial candidate.

Beyond size and geographical scope, C1 also offers a potential buyer a unique asset: A visible marketing and promotions department. C1 has a corporate partnership with the NBA's Miami Heat and is the official bank of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, among other high-profile sponsorships.


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