Huntington Bancshares Inc. drew intense interest in its share offering this week, Chief Executive Stephen Steinour said Thursday, as investors looked to get in on the bank's exit from government funding and step in front of a possible dividend raise.

Steinour said that the $920 million share offering was seven times oversubscribed. Some investors even called Huntington directly in an attempt to gain favor, he said, skipping the traditional middlemen, the underwriting banks.

The keen interest suggests "a lot of capital is on the sideline," Steinour said, adding that a high volume of institutional investors was involved.

Huntington, a Columbus, Ohio, regional banking company, offered the more than 146 million shares, which it priced Tuesday at $6.30 each, to raise capital to pay back the $1.4 billion owed the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Analysts viewed the exit as a positive, though most said the need to raise 65% of Tarp funds in new equity seemed expensive. Many regional banks had been expected to raise only 50 cents for every dollar of Tarp funds.

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