Bank of Naples sale to Minnesota bank finalized Thursday

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Bank of Naples has a new owner.

The bank has been acquired by Minnesota-based Central Bank, which has Naples ties. Final regulatory approval came Thursday.

Central Bank – one of several banks owned by Naples resident John Morrison – first announced its plans to acquire the Bank of Naples in May.

The local bank is now a branch of Central Bank, but it will take time to change the signs. No other big changes are planned, Morrison said.

"We think Naples is a good area," he said. "Over the years, we have bought a lot of banks. Most of them have been troubled banks and they've turned out well and everything has been good."

Morrison was one of the original investors in the Bank of Naples. He's a former director of the bank.

With the acquisition, Central Bank is now one of the largest independently owned banks in Southwest Florida, Morrison said.

In November 2009, Central Bank took over the failed Commerce Bank of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers.

More than a year ago, Bank of Naples was hit with an enforcement action by federal regulators as it struggled to overcome its financial problems. The bank had lost more than $30 million since 2007, most of which was blamed on loan losses it suffered after the collapse of the local real estate market.

The state-chartered bank was likely to fail in the coming months and be closed by regulators. It had one office at 4099 U.S. 41 North.

"There is promise in Southwest Florida and there is promise in Naples," Morrison said. "We've had bad times because of real estate ... but our assessment is that we are at the bottom. Things are starting to improve slightly so I think that is going to be good for the area, not just for banks, but for everybody."

With the acquisition of the Naples bank, Central Bank has $1.2 billion in total assets and 21 locations serving Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as Southwest Florida.

Connect with Laura Layden@www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden

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