Bank United Corp., the Houston thrift owned by financier Lewis S. Ranieri, defied a sluggish market for initial public offerings on Friday, issuing new shares that surged more than 14% in value.
Shares in the $11 billion asset company, which is trading on the Nasdaq, rose from the initial offering price of $20 to $22.875. It was the sixth- most-actively traded stock.
The deal, totaling about $210 million, could signal renewed interest in thrift shares by investors. In recent months, shares of many newly public thrifts have hovered at the offering price or slipped lower.
Market sources said orders for Bank United's offer were in excess of $1.5 billion, or more than 7 times the value of shares available. "Everyone that we met face-to-face expressed interest and put an order in," said a source close to the deal.
The issue makes Bank United the largest publicly traded thrift in Texas, followed by Coastal Bancshares, with 2.8 billion in assets.
Mr. Ranieri, known as the father of the mortgage-backed security, remains chairman and continues to own nonvoting shares through his investment company, Hyperion Partners LP. He declined to comment.
His group acquired the thrift from the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. in 1988 and has more than doubled its assets from $5 billion since then. The group's equity has risen to $529 million from $118 million in the same period.
The Bank United public offering stands in stark contrast to some other public offerings by thrifts and other companies lately.
"It has been a tough market for IPOs," said Douglas Pagliaro, analyst at Friedman, Billings & Ramsey. "A lot of these technology companies don't have any earning behind them, and here comes Bank United with strong earnings and everything everyone is looking for. ... This is what is running the price."
Bank United's offering of 10.5 million class A common shares is larger than any of the recent IPOs by thrifts. And unlike the conversions of mutually owned thrifts, Bank United did not offer shares to depositors before bringing them to the public.
Analysts said the rapid rise in Bank United stock was a reflection of the company's robust earnings and of diminishing fears of an interest rate hike in the near future.
Bank United could gain up $200 million as a result of a recent court decision that the government could not rescind favorable accounting that was granted to the acquirers of failed thrifts. Hyperion Partners are expected to get 15% of the eventual settlement.
Although Mr. Ranieri is selling all of his voting shares, he is not bailing out of the mortgage business, according to one source familiar with the deal.
"Ranieri, is doing this so that he can do more acquisitions in Texas," the source said, "and the best way to do acquisition to have a stock in the market to do tax-free stock swaps."
Market sources also noted that investors in the deals got excellent value for the deal saying that Bank United is less expensive than the average S&L.
Most S&L's trade at 1.5 times of tangible book value, while bank united trades at 1.2 times, an analyst noted.
"It has a been a heck of a month for thrifts," said analyst Bruce Harting of Lehman Brothers Inc., which was a co-manager on the deal. "With two-high profile California mergers, my read is several smart money managers are stepping up their position in the thrift industry," he said, referring to the CalFed and Washington Mutual deals in July.
The Bank United IPO is 10 times larger than the IPO of Coastal, which went public two years ago. Coastal was a $20 million IPO.
The difference between a thrift mutual conversion and a nonconversion, the more common thrift IPO, is that shares are offered to new investors as opposed to depositors.