Trading in the stock of American Savings of Florida F.S.B. resumed Friday, one day after it was suspended because of the company's merger discussions.
American Savings, with $3.2 billion of assets, said it asked Nasdaq to halt trading in its stock Thursday after the price had climbed to $19.50 a share, $1.75 above Wednesday's close, on "an inordinate increase in volume" of 2.7 million shares. American Savings has 11 million shares outstanding, but only 51% of that is held by the public.
On Friday, when trading resumed, the stock began climbing again, closing at $21.50 a share, within striking distance of twice the thrift's tangible book value of $12.27 a share.
"It looks like a deal is going to happen," said Deborah R. Beylus, an analyst with JW Charles/CSG in Boca Raton.
American Savings, which has 29 branches in Dude, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, had previously announced that it had hired an investment banker to pursue a "possible" sale of the company. On Thursday it said it "is currently considering" such a sale.
Analysts pointed to First Union Corp., NationsBank Corp., and Barnett Banks Inc. as potential buyers. All three have large banks in southeast Florida that could extract major cost savings from American Savings.
American Savings has had a troubled history, but it is considered attractive because of a solid foundation of core deposits. It is also among the last three sizable independent banking franchises left in southeast Florida. The other two are Coral Gables Fedcorp and the privately owned CFS Holdings Inc., Miami.
A sale of American Savings is regarded as a near certainty because its 49% owner, the bankruptcy trustee administering the assets of parent company Enstar Group Inc., is required to sell its entire stake by June 1, 1995.