Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida in Stuart has agreed to buy GulfShore Bancshares in Tampa, Fla.

The $4.5 billion-asset Seacoast said in a press release Friday that it will pay $54.8 million, or $9.80 a share, in cash and stock for the $332 million-asset GulfShore. The merger, which is expected to close in the first quarter, values GulfShore at 146% of its tangible book value.

GulfShore, formed in 2007, has three branches, $279 million in deposits and $253 million in loans.

The deal, "following the announcement last week of our exceptional third quarter results, shows the power of Seacoast's balanced growth strategy," Dennis Hudson, the company's chairman and chief executive, said in the release. "GulfShore is an accretive acquisition and a low-risk alternative to de novo expansion into Tampa."

Seacoast said it expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings per share, excluding one-time transaction costs. It should take less than 3.5 years to earn back the deal's dilution to Seacoast's tangible book value.

Joe Caballero, GulfShore's president and CEO, will become Seacoast's Tampa Market Executive and Ed O'Carroll, GulfShore's chief operating officer, will become a commercial banking manager.

Seacoast was advised by FBR Capital Markets and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. GulfShore was advised by Sandler O'Neill and Foley & Lardner.

Seacoast has been an active acquirer, buying Floridian Financial and a group of BMO Harris branches to bulk up around Orlando, Fla.

The company has also been facing pressure from activist investor CapGen Financial, which has been pushing for changes to the board. CapGen, which is run by former Comptroller Eugene Ludwig, withheld support for all of the company's board nominees earlier this year.

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