April 13, 2018 / 3:05 PM / a year ago

Exclusive: Owner of Florida Community Bank explores sale - sources

(Reuters) - FCB Financial Holdings Inc FCB.N, owner of Florida Community Bank, is exploring a sale, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, as an easing of financial rules unleashes pent-up demand for deals among mid-sized U.S. banks.

FCB’s decision to explore a sale comes amid an effort by U.S. lawmakers to free many small and mid-sized banks from regulatory restrictions associated with systematically important institutions, while regulators look to ease up on compliance issues that can delay transactions.

FCB is working with investment bank Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP on a sale process, two of the sources said, cautioning that no deal is certain.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Florida Community Bank and Sandler O’Neill did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

FCB shares rose as much as 6.5 percent on the news and were trading up 3.8 percent at $54.90 in afternoon trading on Friday, giving the company a market capitalization of $2.6 billion.

FCB runs the third-largest bank by assets in Florida behind BankUnited Inc (BKU.N) and Raymond James Financial Inc (RJF.N), according to the latest Federal Reserve data. It has 46 branches across Florida and more than $10 billion of assets, according to its website.

FCB was formed in 2009 to buy up banks which failed in the wake of the global financial crisis. It bought three banks in 2010 and five more lenders in 2011 in Florida. FCB became a publicly listed company in 2014.

Should a buyer be found for the business, it would be the largest bank deal announced since last year, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) clinched a $5 billion deal in June 2017 to acquire Chicago-based PrivateBancorp.

In 2016, New York’s TIAA announced it was buying Jacksonville-based EverBank Financial Corp for $2.5 billion.

FCB, at its current valuation, trades at around 2.25-times its tangible book value as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.

Reporting by David French in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and David Gregorio

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