Vernon Hill is back.
The legendary founder and CEO of the former Commerce Bank in Cherry Hill, N.J., on Monday was named chairman at Republic First Bancorp in Philadelphia. Hill has been a major investor in and a consultant to the $1.7 billion-asset Republic First since late last decade and over the years Republic First has added many Commerce-like features to its branches, including seven-day-a-week banking and free coin counting.
Hill's appointment to chairman coincided with the announcement that Republic has raised $100 million of new capital through the sale of common stock. Republic has opened eight new branches over the past three years and in a news release it said it intends to use a portion of the proceeds to open at least six new locations next year.
Republic First's shares soared on the news of the capital raise and Hill's appointment. The stock was trading at $5.75 late Monday, up 7.5% from Friday's closing price.
"Our expansion plan represents the bank's commitment to world-class service and convenience," said Harry Madonna, Republic's founder and CEO.
Hill is currently the chairman of the $12 billion-asset Metro Bank, a London-based retail bank he co-founded in 2010. But he made his mark in banking at Commerce, which he founded in 1973 and over the next 34 years built it into a deposit-gathering powerhouse with roughly $50 billion of assets and more than 450 branches stretching from New England to Florida.
In 2007, Hill was forced to resign as Commerce's chairman and CEO after regulators barred the bank from doing business with firms controlled by Hill's family. His wife, Shirley, ran an architectural design firm that designed many of Commerce's branches.
Later that year, Commerce announced that it was selling itself to TD Bank for $8.5 billion. TD still uses the "America's Most Convenient Bank" tagline that Commerce coined under Hill.