John Lyons, who helped put together scores of bank mergers as a consultant, now knows firsthand what it's like to be a target company.

"It's like getting shot midstride," said Mr. Lyons, who seven months ago quit a New York consulting post to become president of Florida's Jupiter Tequesta National Bank.

Just as Mr. Lyons was warming up, management got an offer it couldn't refuse. And late last month Jupiter signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Boca Raton-based First United Bancorp.

First United agreed to pay up to $6.8 million in cash and stock for the $55-million-asset Jupiter.

That translates to about 170% of Jupiter's book value -- a nice deal for stockholders, including Mr. Lyons. He owns about 10% of the bank.

Mr. Lyons' stint as head of the bank may have been short, but he took quick strides to position Jupiter for growth.

Under Mr. Lyons, Jupiter formed a securities and brokerage department, sold $17 million of mortgage-backed securities, and built a $3 million pipeline in Small Business Administration loans.

Two new branches are also on the drawing board.

Mr. Lyons acknowledges that profits weren't stellar--the bank earned about $90,000 for the first nine months of the year -- because the focus was on positioning Jupiter for the future.

Jupiter is a good match for First United because it extends the franchise northward and into a growing area.

The $274.5 million-asset bank has 11 locations in Palm Beach, Broward, and Martin Counties. It earned $1 million for the first half of the year, and posted a 1.10% return on assets.

First United officials did not return phone calls.

Mr. Lyons, who was previously managing principal of the New York-based bank consulting firm Lyons, Zomback & Ostrowski, wanted to build Jupiter into a $400 million banking company and affiliate it with other Florida community banks under a holding company structure.

"It does create some psychic pain," said Mr. Lyons, who will work at the bank until sale is completed. "But the stockholder is the boss."

What's next for Mr. Lyons?

"I have no idea," he said. "There are great banking opportunities down here. It's still a fabulous market, but so is New Jersey."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.