EJF Capital LLC's latest Form 13F disclosed 20 new financial institution positions as of Dec. 31, 2017, including five banks and a thrift that completed their IPOs in the fourth quarter.
The firm's largest initiation, a $44.6 million stake in Huntington Bancshares Inc., became its eighth-largest position as of Dec. 31,2017. Among the six initiations that became a top-20 holding, four were regional banks with at least $40 billion in assets.
EJF's $17.6 million investment in New York-based Metropolitan Bank Holding Corp. was the largest of the firm's six positions in fourth-quarter 2017 IPOs.
EJF's total financial stock portfolio increased to $1.14 billion at year-end, up from $906.3 million in the third quarter. The hedge fund further increased its position in its largest investment, Citizens Financial Group Inc. by 34.1% during the quarter, pushing its total stake to $76.3 million.
The fund manager more than doubled its investment in Comerica Inc. making the superregional bank its second-largest position as of Dec. 31, 2017, at $64.2 million. Earlier this month, BMO Capital Markets' Lana Chan upgraded Comerica to "outperform" and set a price target of $111, compared to the Feb. 14 close of $97.40.
EJF Capital was also bullish on IBERIABANK Corp., nearly tripling its stake in the regional bank to $43.1 million. On Oct. 19, 2017, IBERIABANK announced that it would acquire Coral Gables, Fla.-based Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust Co. for $228.3 million.
The fund manager completely sold out of 13 financial institution investments that were worth a combined $139.7 million as of Sept. 30, 2017. Banc of California Inc. was the largest exit at $25.4 million.
Another exit, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Atlantic Coast Financial Corp., had announced that it would be acquired by Moultrie, Ga.-based Ameris Bancorp Nov. 17, 2017.
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