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St. Pete bank files breach of contract claim in $60M loan cancellation

The bank's quarterly earnings report includes increases in assets and deposits.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. May 6, 2023
BayFirst CEO Anthony Leo plans to retire at the end of this year.
BayFirst CEO Anthony Leo plans to retire at the end of this year.
Courtesy photo
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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St. Petersburg-based BayFirst Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: BAFN), which holds BayFirst National Bank, recently reported $739,000 in net income in the 2023 first quarter. That’s a substantial gain from the $13,000 generated last year — but down 40% from the last quarter of 2022. 

That decrease was driven largely by a canceled sale of $60 million in government guaranteed loans to Signature Bank, which regulators recently placed into receivership. “Signature Bank was one of the largest aggregators of SBA loans,” BayFirst CEO Anthony Leo says in a press release. “We moved quickly to identify another buyer to mitigate our damages.”

The bank estimates it lost $1.6 million in reduced income on the canceled sale. However, it expects the terms of the original transaction to eventually be honored by the FDIC. “We are in the process of submitting a claim for breach of contract to the FDIC as receiver for the gain differential,” Leo says.

A bank spokeswoman, in a May 5 email to the Business Observer, confirmed that BayFirst filed a claim against Signature Bank to the FDIC as the receiver of Signature Bank.

Thomas Zernick, BayFirst’s president, said the failed transaction “highlight(ed) a central theme of our strategic plan to grow recurring revenue through net interest income, thereby resulting in less reliance on the gain on sale from SBA loans.” 

In February, the bank announced Zernick would replace Leo as BayFirst’s CEO at the end of this year.

BayFirst, meanwhile, with $938.66 million in assets, posted quarterly increases in assets (13.9%) deposits (17.3%) and three separate loan categories.



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