NAPLES — Out with the old, in with the new.
The bank shake-up in Southwest Florida has brought new names to the market.
With four banks failing in Naples and Fort Myers within five weeks, others have swooped in to take their place -- all of them new to this region.
There’s IberiaBank of Louisiana. It took over Orion Bank -- one of the largest community banks in Naples.
There’s Stonegate Bank, a Fort Lauderdale bank that acquired Hillcrest of Florida and Partners Bank in Naples on the same day after they were shuttered by regulators a few weeks ago.
The newest name is Central Bank of Stillwater, Minn., which on Friday assumed all the deposits of Commerce Bank in Southwest Florida, based in Fort Myers, after it failed.
While local residents may be dazed by the new signs going up, in the long run putting healthier banks in the market will be beneficial, said David Seleski, Stonegate’s president and CEO.
“From an economy standpoint, there’s a silver lining. These banks will be more aggressive, not trying to shrink their balance sheets but grow them,” he said.
Troubled banks can’t make as many new loans or grow because they don’t have enough operating capital.
“I think overall it’s a cleansing process that is not only going to help Southwest Florida, but Florida,” Seleski said. “You need banks to make loans. You need to have banks out there making things happen.”
His bank, founded in 2005, had its eye on Southwest Florida from the start. But it decided to hold back on moving here, waiting until after the real estate market settled.
“The last thing you want to do is get in the market when it’s at the peak,” Seleski said. “We want to get in the market when it’s getting close to the bottom or is at the bottom. That’s our sense of Naples right now.”
The Naples market is attractive for many reasons.
“There is a lot of wealth in Naples from the outside looking in,” Seleski said. “There is a lot of potential down the road.”
First National Bank of the Gulf Coast is Naples’ newest bank. It opened last month after a successful merger with Panther Bank, headquartered in Lehigh Acres.
Daryl Byrd, CEO of IberiaBank, said five years ago others told him to come to Florida. He went to Arkansas instead.
“We felt like it was the wrong time to be coming to Florida,” he said. “Real estate was overvalued.”
He said now is the right time to be in Florida. Iberia also acquired Century Bank in Sarasota after it failed. It had 11 branches. Orion had 23.
“These are acquisitions (No.) 11 and 12 for us,” Byrd said. “We have a lot of experience with acquisitions.”
He expects most of Orion’s employees to keep their jobs so customers will continue to see the same faces.
“It’s a people business,” he said. “It’s all about people.”
He hopes to grow the bank. While it’s sad for the market to lose Orion, which at one time was one of the best-performing banks in the country, the market will be better off now with IberiaBank, Byrd said.
“We’re bringing one of the most solid banks in the country,” he said. “That’s a start.”
With Stonegate’s two acquisitions, one banking competitor was lost.
And, earlier this year, TIB Bank in Naples took over Riverside Bank of the Gulf Coast after it failed, taking out another community bank. TIB has consolidated offices, closing Riverside’s branches in Naples and Golden Gate.
“Riverside was a very attractive bank. We thought it was a very good bank,” said Steve Gilhooly, TIB’s chief financial officer. “Unfortunately, it got into a lot of trouble with the residential loans, but they had very good deposits and very good customers.”
It’s still uncertain how many branch offices might close with all the bank failures, or how many people will lose jobs in the transition.
IberiaBank plans to keep most of Orion’s employees, but it’s still reviewing the management team.
Since it acquired two banks in Naples, Stonegate expects to do more consolidating.
“We are still determining what we are going to keep open and what we are not going to keep open,” Seleski said. “We have announced a market president for the area. We are opened for business and we are trying to find new business.”
Eventually, he said, Stonegate may look to grow its presence on this coast, maybe opening a branch to the north.
“For right now we are pretty content,” Seleski said. “We did an acquisition here in July. We did three acquisitions in the last half of the year. We are done for a little bit,” he said. “I’ve got to sleep at night.”