First Mariner in Baltimore to Sell Bank Through Bankruptcy Process

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First Mariner Bancorp (FMAR) in Baltimore is planning a $100 million recapitalization of its bank led by a group of investors.

The $1 billion-asset company said it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sell its 1st Mariner Bank to an interim bank formed by a group that includes Priam Capital, Patriot Financial Partners, GCP Capital Partners and TFO Financial Institutions Restoring Fund. The investor group also includes several members of the Baltimore business community.

First Mariner said in a press release Monday that the investors will bid on the bank in a bankruptcy auction.

The capital infusion "will create a bank poised for growth," Mark Keidel, 1st Mariner Bank's interim president, said in the release. "Upon approval by the court and regulatory authorities, the bank will become strong and secure. We will meet all federal and state regulatory requirements for capitalization."

In 2009, regulators ordered First Mariner to increase capital. In 2011, Priam agreed to invest about $36 million in the bank, but First Mariner called off the plan the next year, saying it would instead raise capital with retained earnings fueled by the refinancing boom.

The company's fortunes took a turn for the worse as refinancing activity slowed in mid-2013, reporting losses in the second and third quarters. The bank had a 3.28% Tier 1 leverage ratio and a 6.85% total risk-based capital ratio as of Dec. 31, according to FDIC data.

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