"It is going to be a completely new era for the bank," Davila said.
Most significantly, the recapitalization will allow U.S. Century to continue independently -- as one of the only remaining locally owned community banks of its size. Others, like City National Bank of Florida and BankAtlantic have been sold in recent years to foreign owners or larger U.S. banks.
Ken Thomas, a Miami banking consultant and economist, called retaining local ownership "the best possible outcome."
"We just have too many branches where the roots are based elsewhere, and this one will stay here, and that is what is important to me," he said.
The new investors may also help the bank extend its demographic outreach and customer base, because U.S. Century has until now focused on the Hispanic market.
"Institutions go through life cycles," Davila said. "There is a great history at U.S. Century, and it's a great tribute to the people who started this brand and this institution. And now we need new blood, a fresh set of eyes and energy to take this institution forward."
At its inception, U.S. Century founders, homebuilder Pino, attorney Ramon Rasco, Sedanos family members Manolo Herran and Armando Guerra and gun manufacturer Carlos Garcia had grand plans to create a successful bank.
After all, they had already succeeded with Ready State Bank, which was started in 1983 with $3 million and was sold in 1999 for $150 million, making fortunes in the process.
"Once we sold the bank, it was always on our minds that we would do it again," said Pino, during an interview in his office late last year.
So they brought in more well-connected directors: Dade County Bar Association President -- and later Florida Bar Association President -- Frank Angones, Spanish television executive Jose Cancela and lobbyist and Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Barreto, adding Herran's son Augustin to succeed his father once he retired.
"This was a dream team," Pino recalled. "We were going to create a great bank."
They named the bank U.S. Century, using the Century name of Pino's companies and housing developments, in which many of the bank's directors had also invested.
They added "U.S." to reflect their goal: to expand the bank nationwide to every city that had a large Hispanic population, Pino said.
The directors invited everyone they knew to buy stock in U.S. Century, raising about $130 million from 441 investors, mostly local Cuban-American business people, lawyers and other professionals.
There were shareholders like Carlos Blanco, who came in through family members, and was mesmerized by the directors' prestige.
"I knew nothing about banking," Blanco said. "They could have started a shoe warehouse for all I cared, it wouldn't have mattered. The pedigree was there."
The directors brought their own businesses to the bank. One day, Pino recalls, he had all his employees open accounts, filling the lobby.
"If I knew a director was doing a deal, why not bring it to your bank?" said Pino, who is no longer on the board. "Why bring business to another institution when we could do it at our institution?"
U.S. Century flourished for a time, growing to $2.4 billion in assets by 2009.
But then, it began a steep decline. Real estate values plummeted, bad loans mounted, losses resulted and the bank's capital became depleted.
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