First Union Mulls Bid for Southeast

ATLANTA -- First Union Corp. said Monday that it might consider making an offer for Southeast Banking Corp., but only with federal assistance.

First Union also said it is conducting preliminary due diligence in connection with a possible purchase of "a limited number" of branches from Miami-based Southeast in central or northern Florida.

In April, Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union had taken itself out of the running for Southeast, which has had six consecutive quarters of losses. On Monday, First Union modified its stance, saying it "did not rule out the possibility" of acquiring Southeast with assistance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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First Union, with $39.6 billion in assets, already owns a $15.2 billion-asset bank in Florida. Southeast has $12.6 billion in assets.

NCNB Corp., also of Charlotte, had earlier been reported to be seeking such an "open bank" assistance package from federal regulators, although Southeast declared last week that it was not discussing such a plan with regulators.

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