An ambitious Florida banker has stepped in to rescue one of the state's largest ailing banks.

The $925 million-asset C1 Bank in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. said Friday that it would buy the struggling U.S. Century Bank in Doral for an undisclosed price. Industry observers say they were relieved to see that the under-capitalized U.S. Century, with $1.2 billion in assets, was picked up by another Florida bank and not an outsider or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

This open-bank deal "doesn't put south Florida through the trauma of another bank failure that we've had so many of," says Ken Thomas, an independent bank consultant and economist in Miami. "It's good that the acquirer is somebody in Florida. …They will be more responsive to the community."

The four investors backing C1 Bank's parent, CBM Florida Holding, have been quietly sweeping through the greater Tampa Bay area in recent years, rehabbing small banks. U.S. Century is the fourth and largest acquisition CBM has made since 2009 and will more than double the buyer's assets and will give it heft around Miami.

"What really attracted us to U.S. Century was its had this amazing branch network," says Trevor Burgess, the chief executive at CBM Florida and C1 Bank. "Now that we have a strong presence in Tampa Bay with 21 branches, we looked to the next most obvious and certainly, the largest market in the state of Florida."

The deal gives C1 Bank 24 branches in two of the most attractive banking markets in the state: Miami Dade and Broward counties.

"Those 24 branches are in the money counties and a majority of them are good locations," Thomas says. C1 Bank will be "able to generate a good level of deposits and cross-sell products."

C1 Bank primarily targets consumers for mortgages and businesses through Small Business Administration loans. Despite its short history, the group behind C1 Bank has worked aggressively to build a presence along the Gulf Coast, even becoming the official bank for the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. South Florida is quite different than Tampa, given its international feel, but Burgess says he had no concerns about blending into the new markets. It doesn't hurt that two of CBM Florida's investors are Brazilian; another investor is Dutch.

"We do know how to speak in a different language," Burgess says. "We're very focused on meeting the needs community and as it turns out, people in Tampa need to buy homes and people in Miami need to buy homes."

Burgess said they plan to pay back the $50.2 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds that U.S. Century holds, pending approval by the Treasury Department. The deal is expected to close later this year.

The investor group behind CBM Florida also plans to inject $100 million in capital into U.S. Century as part of its rehabilitation. The bank was undercapitalized with a total risk-based capital ratio of 6.3% at June 30. More than 19% of its total assets were nonperforming at midyear.

Burgess says that all of the seller's assets will be marked to market before the deal closes. "We're confident in our track record to successfully resolve those" issues, he says. "Not every one of these banks that are undercapitalized need to fail if we have the experienced management team and track record and know how."

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