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Beach Community Bank plans to expand in Tampa-St. Pete

Margie Manning



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Expect to see a growing presence in the Tampa-St. Pete area for Beach Community Bank after the financial institution completes a deal to buy a rival bank in northwest Florida.

Chip Reeves

Beach, headquartered in Fort Walton Beach and with an executive office in Tampa, will hire more lenders, make more loans and potentially look for other banks to acquire in Tampa-St. Pete and Central Florida, said president and CEO Chip Reeves.

The key to expansion is a deal announced late Wednesday. Beach has an agreement to purchase Florida First City Banks Inc. and First City Bank of Florida, also in Fort Walton Beach. The combined entity will have about $675 million in assets, a news release said.

Financial terms were not announced, and the deal is more complex than many other transactions.

First City Bank of Florida was hit hard by the recession in 2008, and still has a high level of troubled loans and bank-owned real estate on its books. To make the deal work, the bank’s parent company, Florida First City Banks, will file for bankruptcy, and Beach Community Bank will buy First City Bank of Florida from the holding company. Day-to-day operations at the bank won’t be impacted, Reeves said.

The deal needs regulatory and court approval. It’s expected to close in the second quarter of 2020.

“It allows us to solidify our northwest Florida presence and gives us $130 million of quality deposits to lend out,” Reeves said. “We will lend them in the Tampa Bay region.”

Reeves is one of several long-time bankers who recapitalized Beach Community Bank in 2018, and set up an executive office in Tampa in July of that year. Others on the executive team are Carl Chaney, Beach Community Bank chairman and the former CEO of Hancock Whitney Bank; Richard Mocsari, former chief financial officer at Gulfshore Bank in Tampa and now CFO at Beach; and Drew Peterson, a former Gulfshore and Raymond James Bank executive who is now chief credit officer at Beach. Local banking veterans Steve Stagg and Henry Gonzalez lead the Tampa market for the bank.

The executive office is in Westshore. A branch office at 701 N. Franklin in downtown Tampa opened in August.

“We have $100 million in loans outstanding in Tampa in 18 months, and we look to double that in 2020,” Reeves said.

Beach aspires to be a multi-billion dollar bank, growing both organically and through acquisitions, Reeves said.

With $675 million in assets, Beach will be larger than any community bank headquartered in the Tampa-St. Pete area, with the exception of The Bank of Tampa.

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