Odyssey Pulls Out of Southeast Bidding

ATLANTA -- The New York investment firm Odyssey Partners LP has withdrawn from the bidding contest for Southeast Banking Corp., leaving the troubled Miami-based company with little hope of avoiding a government takeover.

"We have not submitted any bid at this time, and we do not intend to submit any bid," said Odyssey partner Jack Nash.

He declined say whether Odyssey had held discussions with Southeast or had examined its books, as reported last week.

|Open Bank' Solution Sought

Southeast Bank earlier disclosed that it was seeking a capital infusion from a private investor group, involving some form of government assistance. Such an "open bank" acquisition would allow Southeast to continue as an independent banking company.

"It seems like [Southeast] management would bend over backwards to get a nonbank bidder. But you'd still figure a bank would be the most likely bidder here," said J. Frederick Meinke, banking analyst with Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Odyssey's name is the only one that has surfaced in connection with a private recapitalization. The investment firm was founded in 1982 by Mr. Nash and Leon Levy, both former executives at Oppenheimer & Co. Odyssey has specialized in leveraged buyouts, such as the 1988 recapitalization of JPS Textile Group.

|Closed Bank' Bidding

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was scheduled to receive bids last week from several banks interested in acquiring Southeast on a "closed bank" basis -- under which regulators would actually seize the institution.

The bidders are believed to include First Union Corp., Charlotte; Barnett Banks Inc., Jacksonville; and Atlanta-based Sun Trust Banks Inc.

Southeast, with assets of $11.3 billion, has lost nearly $500 million in the past seven quarters.

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