PNC Financial Services Group Inc. appears to be willing to pay up to expand on Florida's west coast.

The Pittsburgh-based company has entered into a deal to buy 19 branches in the Tampa and St. Petersburg metropolitan area and $350 million of deposits from BankAtlantic Bancorp. Inc. at a 10% premium to deposits, BankAtlantic announced Monday.

That is a particularly high premium, compared with an average deposit premium of 3.51% on branch deals announced in 2010, according to SNL Financial. There were 81 branch deals announced last year.

"That is the equivalent of seeing a two- to three-times book value acquisition in this market," said Ken Thomas, an independent bank consultant and economist in Florida. "It shows how attractive Florida's deposit market is."

PNC has an extensive branch network on Florida's east coast, stretching from Daytona Beach to Fort Lauderdale largely from its 2008 acquisition of National City Corp., but has only a handful of branches on Florida's west coast. The company said in an e-mail that this branch deal helps flesh out that market.

"This transaction fits PNC's growth strategy. It puts us squarely in the attractive and growing Tampa-St. Petersburg market and builds upon our successful 2009 expansion in the state," said Joseph C. Guyaux, president and head of retail banking.

For the $4.7 billion-asset BankAtlantic, the deal, which is expected to close June, would allow the Fort Lauderdale company to focus its attention on southeast Florida. The company, which is dealing with a high level of nonperforming assets, announced that it was shopping the 19 branches in August 2010. It also sold five branches in Orlando in 2008.

BankAtlantic officials declined to comment.

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