A recently opened start-up in Louisville, Ky., believes it may have raised the most capital ever for a new bank in the state.

First Capital Bank of Kentucky raised $10 million from October through January, well above what's required of Kentucky de novo banks. Most banks try to open their doors with $3 million to $6 million of capital.

"We visited some start-ups and got a lot of advice telling us to stay at around $4 million so that our ROE wouldn't suffer," said H. David Hale, chief executive. "But that didn't make good sense to me. We felt staying at that level could stymie our growth."

First Capital is yet another new community bank in the wave rising nationwide in the past year. In Kentucky alone, four banks have either opened or are in the process of opening inside of 12 months.

Most of these start-ups are being sparked in part by rampant industry consolidation, and First Capital is no different. Mr. Hale was head of the Cumberland, a large Louisville thrift acquired in August 1994 by Fifth Third Bancorp of Cincinnati.

First Capital intends to grow fairly quickly - to about $20 million of assets by the end of the first year and to $100 million after five years.

Mr. Hale, 51, said he believes this is possible in part because of the track record he and his employees can boast. About half of his 15-member staff came from big banks - PNC Bank Corp. of Pittsburgh, Huntington Bancshares of Columbus, Ohio, and Fifth Third.

He said he hopes this big-bank experience will create a greater sales- oriented atmosphere than is found in most community banks. "We want everyone, from the back office to the tellers, to be salesmen," he said.

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