BankUnited Financial Corp. has just a few weeks to find a buyer or risk seizure, regulators said Thursday.
The Office of Thrift Supervision issued a prompt corrective action requiring the $14 billion-asset Coral Gables, Fla., company to sell itself or substantially all its assets.
The directive, which was dated April 14, gives BankUnited 15 days to submit a merger agreement to the OTS and 20 days to complete the deal.
It also requires the banking unit to boost its total risk-based capital ratio to 8%. At yearend that ratio was 3.6%, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Calls to BankUnited officials were not returned.
Ken Thomas, a Miami banking consultant, said BankUnited has been ordered to raise capital before, but this is the first time it has been given a deadline to do so.
He also said the most likely outcome would be a government-assisted sale.
"Why hasn't anything been done about BankUnited when other banks have been closed?" Thomas said. "We're finally going to see resolution of this."
Despite its loan troubles, Thomas said, BankUnited would be attractive to a buyer, because of its branches and deposits, but any interested parties would likely wait for the government to step in, so that they could negotiate a loss-sharing arrangement.
"They've got one of the best branch and deposit franchises in south Florida, one of the best banking markets in the country," he said.
BankUnited has had heavy losses on its option adjustable-rate mortgages, and it has been warning since mid-December that its survival was doubtful without a capital injection.
In a filing last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said regualtors might seize its bank unit.
"There is substantial doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern," the filing said.
In February, BankUnited filed a preliminary loss of $306 million for its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31.