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Credit unions responsible for 6 of 16 Fla. bank buys in 2019

Sixteen Florida bank deals were announced in 2019, making the Sunshine State the fourth-most popular target in the country after Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin. However, Florida was easily the most popular target for credit unions buying banks.

Six credit unions announced Florida bank acquisitions last year, including the largest such deal in history, Tampa-based Suncoast CU's acquisition of Miami-based Apollo Bank, which was announced Dec. 3, 2019. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, only 40 credit union-bank M&A deals have ever been announced and Florida is the most popular target, with 11 deals. Georgia is a distant second with five deals.

In 2018, 12 Florida bank mergers were announced.

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Florida's community banks posted loan and deposit growth that outpaced both the Southeast and U.S. as a whole again in the third quarter of 2019.

Deposits at Florida community banks grew by a median 5.8% year over year, and loans grew by a median 7.9% compared to the nationwide medians of 4.4% for both metrics. Deposits and loans among all Southeastern banks grew by a median 4.7% and 5.3%, respectively, during the third quarter.

Meanwhile, profitability trends were mixed in the state in the third quarter. The median return on average equity for Florida's community banks and thrifts with less than $10 billion in assets was 10.00% in the third quarter, higher than the Southeast median of 9.67% and the national median of 9.86%. However, Florida's median net interest margin of 3.71% was lower than the Southeast's 3.98% and 3.85% for the U.S.

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Coral Gables-based Amerant Bank NA, Florida's largest community bank by assets, underperformed its in-state peers as it continued a multiyear restructuring following its spinout from Venezuela's Mercantil Servicios Financieros CA. Loans and deposits both fell year over year. On Nov. 20, 2019, Amerant completed its acquisition of Cayman Islands-based Mercantil Bank and Trust Ltd. (Cayman).

Stuart-based Seacoast National Bank, Florida's second-largest community bank, posted better results than the state community bank median in five of the six banking metrics in the third quarter, with only its nonperforming assets ratio of 0.74% underperforming. On Nov. 19, 2019, Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida announced that it would acquire West Palm Beach-based First Bank of the Palm Beaches for $32.9 million, marking its seventh whole-company deal since the beginning of 2015.

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Florida, like most of the nation, saw more bank branch closures than openings in the third quarter. During those three months, Florida saw 33 branch openings and 58 branch closures. Over the preceding year, 225 branches were closed in the state and only 85 opened.

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Click here for an Excel spreadsheet containing results for all Florida community banks in the third quarter.