Florida Shores Bancorp looks to acquire controlling interest in Shamrock Bank of Florida

Two banks hope to become one in Southwest Florida.

On Thursday, Florida Shores Bancorp announced it has signed an agreement to acquire controlling interest in Shamrock Bank of Florida, which has two offices in Naples and Everglades City.

The deal would bring $70 million in assets to Florida Shores, a bank holding company that operates commercial banks under the names Florida Shores-Southwest and Florida Shores-Southeast.

Florida Shores already has one office in Fort Myers.

The transaction requires regulatory and shareholder approval. The banks hope to close the deal by March.

Florida Shores tried to obtain a separate charter for its office in Fort Myers but it proved to be impossible. New charters are tough to get these days because of economic turmoil and increased scrutiny by banks tied to a financial meltdown.

The Fort Myers office has been operating as a branch of Florida Shores-Southwest, headquartered in Venice. If the merger is approved, the office would become part of Florida Shores-Gulfcoast — the new name under which Shamrock would operate.

“Even before we start we are approaching $100 million in assets. That will be good,” said Ben Smith, founder and chairman of Florida Shores Bank.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Donald J. York, Shamrock’s president, would become vice chairman of the board for Florida Shores-Gulfcoast.

Paul R. Roney will continue to serve as board chairman, Susanne E. Bartlett as chief financial officer and Robert W. Carney Jr. as senior vice president.

Robert Vice will remain the president of Florida Shores Bank, Fort Myers.

“We want to be the best — absolutely the best,” Smith said. “We are a long-term player.”

The bank sees the Fort Myers and Naples markets as key to its success as it continues to look for opportunities to expand in Florida. The next focus will be on Central Florida, Smith said.

Colleen Kvetko, a long-time Naples banker who has come out of retirement, will serve as president, CEO and a founding director of Florida Shores. She joined the bank’s board when it was still in organization.

Kvetko was an executive at Fifth Third Bank in Naples for more than 20 years. She retired from the bank twice, most recently in May 2008.

“We hope to get a running start by doing it this way,” she said, referring to the merger.

Kvetko said talks with Shamrock began a few months ago.

“It seemed like a really great fit because they were a young bank, a very well run bank. They didn’t have a lot of credit issues. They had good management, good staff. We thought, “Why not partner?’”

With the merger, the bank will offer more products and services, including more financial options for local companies, Smith said.

Florida Shores has a service company that supports all of its banks, allowing it to offer services that typically might only be found at bigger banks.

“This consolidation brings together two solid community banks and an impressive management team of long-time Southwest Florida banking professionals,” said Donald York, Shamrock’s president in a statement.

“We believe that this decision will benefit all of our stakeholders.”

Among the services offered by Florida Shores is state-of-the-art lockbox processing for condominium and homeowner associations. Through the program, the bank handles automatic debits, late notices and payment notices and offers other help, including loans for capital needs or lines of credit.

Banking decisions would be made locally through a local board of directors.

Florida Shores Bank was established in 2006.

Two weeks ago, Florida Shores signed an agreement to acquire two branches of Florida Capital Bank, adding locations in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.

As of June 30, Florida Shores-Southwest had more than $66.5 million in assets. Florida Shores-Southeast had assets of more than $145.5 million.

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