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Newly formed company will buy Clearwater bank

Margie Manning

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Flagship Community Bank in Clearwater

West Florida Banking Corp. plans to acquire Flagship Community Bank in Clearwater, paying $14.57 a share in cash and stock for all the shares of Flagship.

West Florida Banking is a newly formed company led by Pinellas County banking veterans from Jefferson Bank of Florida in Oldsmar and from USAmeriBank in Largo. Both banks sold in 2017 to larger institutions. Bob McGivney, who was chairman and CEO of Jefferson, is CEO and vice-chairman of West Florida Banking, and James Nelson will be president and chief operating officer, a role he previously held at Jefferson. Rob Shaw, previously with USAmeriBank, will be executive vice president and West Florida Banking.

Flagship has $122 million in assets and two offices. It’s one of just 10 community banks headquartered in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area.

“We are all excited to be returning to a true community bank. With the recent trend of acquisitions, we believe the market is eager to support a locally managed institution. We hope to build on that opportunity and grow Flagship into a leading bank in our community,” McGivney said in a prepared statement.

Flagship last year dropped an ambitious plan to buy BankMobile, a digital banking operation owned by Customers Bancorp (NYSE: CUBI) in Pennsylvania.

“Bringing in new capital and experienced community bankers and directors, who are already established in this market, is a win-win situation for both Flagship and the community,” said Frank Burke, chairman, president and CEO of Flagship. “Bob and his team will be strategically positioned to take Flagship to the next level by providing that personal relationship style of banking the public has come to expect from a community bank.”

The West Florida Banking board of directors will be chaired by Paul Wikle, owner of Wikle Commercial Real Estate Services in Palm Harbor and a former director at Jefferson Bank. Other board members are David Brandon, Ron Hockman, Mark Klein, Ken Marks and Joe Oliveri. Brandon, Hockman and Klein previously were Jefferson Bank directors.

Flagship shareholders will be able to choose whether they want cash or stock for their shares. The stock consideration will be valued at $10 a share, which will be the price at which West Florida Banking will sell shares of its common stock in a planned private placement offering.  Flagship shareholders electing stock will receive 1.457 West Florida Banking shares for every share of Flagship exchanged.

The deal is expected to close before the end of the year, subject to raising capital and regulatory approval. West Florida Banking was represented by the law firm of Igler & Pearlman. Flagship’s financial advisor was Monroe Securities and its law firm was Ed Dougherty PA.

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