Centennial, Bank of Ozarks See Gold in Southeastern Expansion

by George Waldon  on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 12:00 am  

“We understand the market and have people on the ground, and we’re picking up new talent.

“The condo glut is gone. South Florida was the first to get hit and the first to recover, and the recovery is moving up the state to the Panhandle.”

Allison said the biggest competitors in the FDIC-assisted bidding wars come from a half-dozen groups of former bankers backed with investment pools courtesy of Wall Street.

These deal-driven bargain hunters are winning bids but are often making money-losing plays to do it, he said.

“There are bankers that parachuted in, and they had no idea and experience in Florida,” Allison said. “Those are the guys that overbid.

“We looked at 35 deals, bid on 30 and won six. It’s ‘Next.’ You can’t make something there that’s not.”

“That’s why you can’t fall in love with the deal. You just have to go on to the next one. There are stupid bidders out there.”

He believes there will be opportunities down the road to buy bank assets from parachute bidders who aren’t operationally equipped to make a profitable go with their failed bank acquisitions.

Bank of the Ozarks has explored more than 100 FDIC-assisted deals and won seven.

“We’ve certainly seen a lot of crazy bids lately,” Gleason told shareholders in April. “We’re not going to do crazy. We’re going to remain disciplined.”

Allison and Gleason have both noted there will be more bank failures and FDIC-assisted deals to bid on in 2013, after business returns to usual following the presidential election.

Both hope to capitalize on more regional opportunities.

“Somebody has to run these companies,” Allison said. “They get closed for a reason. The economy took them down, people made mistakes, whatever.

“It’s a generational opportunity.”



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