BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is planning a possible rights offering to ensure it meets capital requirements in case the sale of its thrift unit to BB&T Corp. is not completed by early April.

The $3.7 billion-asset company said Thursday after the market closed that if an offering is pursued, it will distribute to shareholders as of Feb. 27 subscription rights to buy an unspecified amount of common stock.

The $164.8 billion-asset BB&T of Winston-Salem, N.C., is in the process of buying the thrift unit, BankAtlantic, for roughly $301 million, plus the net asset value of the thrift at the time the sale closes. When the deal was announced last year, Alan Levan, BankAtlantic's chairman and CEO, touted the thrift's sale as an "elegant solution" for his company.

BankAtlantic said it might pursue the rights offering if the acquisition, which is expected to close in the first or second quarter, is not likely to be completed by April 2 and it needs additional capital. The company, which must maintain a Tier 1 core capital ratio of 8% and a total risk-based capital ratio of 14%, said it believes it met those thresholds at Dec. 31.

Hildene Capital Management Inc., one of the holders of BankAtlantic’s trust preferred securities, has sued to block the acquisition. Hildene has argued that BankAtlantic is selling its "only operating asset," with 78 branches and $2.1 billion of quality loans. Hildene and other bondholders would be left with a stake in the parent company and its $600 million of business mortgages and consumer loans that BB&T is not buying.

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