BankUnited Inc. tested the waters, but has opted to stay independent.

The $11 billion-asset company issued a press release late Wednesday confirming speculation that the company began the preliminary process of looking for a possible buyer.

"BankUnited Inc. today announced that, regarding the recent articles and publicity about the Company, it has confirmed that a preliminary process did occur whereby the company considered its strategic alternatives," the release said. "That process has concluded and the company will continue to pursue its original plan to build the premier bank throughout Florida as an independent institution."

The Miami Lakes, Fla., company also said that it would release its fourth-quarter results on Jan. 25. The quarter's highlights, the company said in the release, included the opening of a dozen branches and deposit growth of $6.9 billion to $7.4 billion, or 24% on an annualized basis. BankUnited also said it expected to report growth in its new loan portfolio of $1.3 billion to $1.7 billion, or 139% on an annualized basis.

The company was formed in 2009 to acquire the assets, deposits and name of the original BankUnited, which failed in May 2009 after massive losses on option-arm mortgages. It was capitalized with $900 million from a consortium of private-equity funds, including Carlyle Group LP, Blackstone Group LP and Centerbridge Partners LP and Wilbur Ross' W.L. Ross & Co. The company went public early last year, raising an additional $783 million in capital.

The company, which is led by John A. Kanas, the former chairman and chief executive of North Fork Bancorp, has been aggressive in attracting bankers to its team in Florida and announced last summer that it would expand into New York with the acquisition of Herald National Bank. Capital One Financial Corp. bought North Fork in 2006.

Last Friday, multiple new sources, led by Bloomberg Television, said that BankUnited had engaged Goldman Sachs Inc. to pursue a possible acquisition. BB&T Corp. and Toronto-Dominion Bank's TD Bank were rumored to have submitted bids. Both Kanas and Goldman, however, remained tight-lipped. BankUnited's Wednesday press release did not detail the specifics of the process it initiated.

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