Plains Capital Corp., a Dallas bank holding company, said Wednesday that it will issue $140 million in new stock through an initial public offering.

The company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it will use the funds to pay off its $92 million in funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, pay off another $20 million in debt and perhaps use the remainder to buy other banks or assets.

Asked for the specific timing of Plains Capital's plans to close the deal, Alan White, the company's chairman and CEO, said, "the sooner the better."

Since March, investors have been aggressively buying bank stocks as the financial industry in general appears to have passed through the worst of the financial crisis.

Plains Capital's announcement that it will go public suggests investors' appetite for financial stocks has continued to grow.

The KBW Bank Index, which tracks the stock performance of large banks, has more than doubled in price since March.

The ability of banks to go public in the near future may hinge on managements' track records.

Plains Capital was started in 1987 and has been profitable every year of its existence. In the first half of 2009, its net income rose to $26.1 million, from $16.3 million a year earlier, despite a better than quadrupling of its loan-loss provision, to $24.8 million as noninterest income tripled.

The company bought First Southwest Co., a top underwriter of municipal bonds, at the end of last year.

The market for bank stocks — especially new issues — was far colder a year ago as the financial crisis raged and some high-profile investors lost money betting on banks too early. The private-equity firm TPG Capital lost nearly $1.5 billion after investing in Washington Mutual Inc. last year, only to watch the Seattle thrift company's seizure by federal regulators and sale to JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York.

Plains Capital's filing suggests it, too, may be gearing up to buy distressed banks or their assets. More than 100 banks have failed since the beginning of last year, and lately the volume of failures has accelerated.

The filing said both the company and current shareholders may sell stock in the IPO.

For the first time in a year, the flow of new companies filing IPOs has picked up. Nine companies had registered paperwork with the SEC as of Monday, a level not seen since July 2008, when 14 companies filed, according to the data firm Dealogic. (The totals exclude companies that are raising less than $10 million and those that refreshed deals already in the pipeline).

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