A week after revealing that a $23 million loss in the first quarter had dropped its equity below zero, BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said late Monday that it is pursuing a stock offering in hopes of raising $30 million in fresh capital.

Current BankAtlantic shareholders will be given the option to buy class A shares at 75 cents each, or 14 cents below Monday's closing price.

The $4.2 billion-asset company reported an $8.7 million equity deficit at the end of the first quarter, and its bank subsidiary is under orders from the Office of Thrift to boost its Tier 1 capital level to 8% and total risk-based capital level to 14%. At March 31, its Tier 1 capital ratio was 5.97% and its risk-based ratio was 11.76%.

In Monday's news release, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levan said that the rights offering, combined with the sale of its Tampa-area branches to PNC Financial Services Group Inc., should put BankAtlantic in position to meet its regulatory capital requirements by the June 30 deadline.

A recent court ruling could end up helping BankAtlantic in its capital-raising effort. Late last year, a jury in a class-action lawsuit found that bank had misled investors about its financial condition, but that ruling was overturned last week by a Miami judge. Investors had previously cited the jury verdict as a deterrent to investing in BankAtlantic.

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