As a longtime executive at Wachovia Corp. and its predecessor, First Union Corp., Kent Ellert was instrumental in helping the Charlotte company integrate its Florida acquisitions. Now he wants to use his market knowledge and his connections to build his own banking company.

Mr. Ellert's vehicle for getting there is Southeast Acquisition Corp., a Coconut Grove, Fla., holding company formed this month for the purpose of rolling up banks in the southern part of the state that have hit on hard times. His partners in the venture include Juan Castro and Jim Baiter, two other longtime area bankers, and Ezra Katz, a real estate executive whose firm, Aztec Group, has brokered $10 billion worth of deals in Florida.

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