When U.S. Century Bank's Cuban-American founders opened the bank 10 1/2 years ago, their vision was to create the largest Hispanic bank in Miami -- and eventually the nation.
The plan stayed on track for a few years until the recession deepened, bad loans mounted and capital was depleted, putting U.S. Century's very survival in jeopardy. Repeated efforts to raise new capital -- and even sell the bank -- fell through.
Until now -- if it all works out.
With a team of local, high-profile investors aiming to inject $50 million into the Doral bank to become majority owners, U.S. Century is on the verge of gaining a new shot at life.
"Were looking to create a well-capitalized, well-run community bank in South Florida, to meet the needs of the small business borrowers and be a one-stop shop to serve their personal and business banking needs," said Jimmy Tate, president and chief executive of Tate Capital, who is leading the investment group, along with Sergio Rok, president of Rok Enterprises and Jorge Perez, chairman and chief executive of the Related Group.
A definitive agreement, drafted last week, is expected to be signed this week.
Existing shareholders, including founders like Sergio Pino -- the largest stockholder with a 10 percent stake -- will continue to have an as-yet-to-be determined ownership in the bank, though their shares will be diluted.
The handpicked group of new investors brings together local Hispanic and Jewish families and friends -- entrepreneurs and business owners spanning several industries.
"I wanted to do it only if we had people within the community that represented the whole community, that were not only prominent but also financially stable people," said Perez.
The investors, who are connected in myriad ways, include Dolphins owner Stephen Ross; Wayne Chaplin, president of Southern Wine & Spirits; Tate's brother Kenny Tate, co-owner of Tate Capital; real estate developer Scott Robins and his father Gerald; George Feldenkreis and his son Oscar, who are chairman/chief executive and president, respectively, of Perry Ellis International; Alan Potamkin, co-chairman of the Potamkin Companies; former ambassador Paul Cejas; Philip Levine, founder of Royal Media Partners; Paul Feinsilver and business partner Jimmy Klotz, owners of FMS Bonds; and Carlos Migoya, a former banker and current chief executive of Jackson Health System.
"We're all in different businesses, we're all friends and we all feel passionate about this opportunity from a business standpoint and to keep a local bank in existence," Jimmy Tate said.
In addition to pumping $50 million in capital into U.S. Century, the group will bring in a partner to pay about $90 million to buy certain loans, including all $98 million of U.S. Century's non-performing loans. The deal will also provide for a negotiated amount of more than $6 million to be paid to the federal government for U.S. Century's $50.2 million in TARP funds, said U.S. Century President and Chief Executive Carlos J. Davila.
If approved by shareholders and regulators, the deal to recapitalize U.S. Century, which has $1 billion in assets and 24 branches, could be completed this summer.
It's a last-ditch attempt at survival for U.S. Century, after C1 Bank of St. Petersburg pulled out of its deal to buy the bank in late December.
Most Popular Stories
- SpaceX's Satellite Launch Is 'Game-Changer'
- Reid Confident Congress to Pass Immigration Bill
- Maui Visitor Killed in Shark Attack
- Donors Abandon GOP Over Gun Stance
- Mexico: 'Extremely Dangerous' Radioactive Material Stolen
- CEOs More Optimistic About Economy, Hiring
- Climate Change Early Warning System Urged
- Private Sector Employment Surges by 215,000 Jobs
- Calif. Likes Christie, Says Tea Party's a Drag
- Newtown 911 Tapes Being Released Today