Offers on the Table at BankUnited; Friday Looms
Troubled Florida-based thrift BankUnited Financial saw a number of bidders present their offers yesterday, as the bank looks to sell itself after receiving a 'deal or die' directive from the Office of Thrift Supervision last month. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is overseeing the sale process, and closed bids yesterday afternoon. It is likely to place the bank into receivership according to a MarketWatch report earlier this week; sources tell HousingWire that the bank will likely be put into receivership this Friday and then sold to the winning bidder. Private equity bidders are likely to want the bank's 'bad' assets stripped off the balance sheet and acquire the bank via loss sharing agreements -- akin to what regulators did in selling failed IndyMac Bank to a consortium of investors earlier this year. Among those bidding, the lead bidder is yet again WL Ross & Company, which had earlier made overtures to acquire the troubled bank and was rebuffed. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross's firm has been on a bad-mortgage acquisition tear as of late, turning Irving, Tex.-based affiliate American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc. into the nation's largest independent mortgage servicing platform and the nation's largest subprime servicer. At BankUnited, the mortgages on its books are not subprime loans but include a hefty exposure to quickly-souring Option ARM mortgages -- where borrowers have seen not only the value of their homes in Florida shrink, but the balances owed on their mortgage debt mushroom as well. Ross isn't working alone: Bidding alongside WL Ross in the same consortium were The Blackstone Group, the Carlyle Group and Centerbridge Partners, according to various press reports. Other competing groups included Goldman Sachs (GS), which reportedly partnered with TD Bank to submit a bid, according to a report in the Miami Herald. But the Ross group seems to have pole position on acquiring the bank at this point, sources suggested to HousingWire Wednesday morning. The investor group has gone as far as to hire John Kanas, the former chief executive of North Fork Bancorp, to run BankUnited should WLRoss and the consortium prove successful in bidding. Investors in BankUnited's common stock -- some of whom have written our editorial staff this week -- are rightfully worried about the future of the bank; any receivership by the FDIC typically wipes out all shareholders. Write to Paul Jackson.