John Kanas, the former chief executive officer of North Fork Bancorp, is leading a group of buyout firms seeking to acquire BankUnited Financial Corp. of Coral Gables, Fla.

Kanas, 62, helped assemble the bidding team, which includes Carlyle Group, Blackstone Group LP, Centerbridge Capital Partners LLC and WL Ross & Co., three people familiar with the matter said Monday. He would run BankUnited, Florida's largest banking company, according to the people, who asked not to be identified, because the information is private. His role had previously not been disclosed.

This year federal regulators deemed BankUnited "critically undercapitalized" and instructed it to find a merger partner or buyer. The government-set deadline for final bids is Thursday.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Toronto-Dominion Bank are weighing a competing offer, the people said. J.C. Flowers & Co., a New York private-equity firm, also is interested, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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