IberiaBank completes Teche acquisition _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- IberiaBank in Lafayette has grown to be the largest bank based in Louisiana with more than $15 billion in assets, primarily by acquiring other institutions. Its latest in-state acquisition was Teche Federal in nearby New Iberia, but its also been aggressively acquiring out-of-state banks to become a regional player in the industry.

Lafayette-based IberiaBank Corp. will enlarge its Florida footprint through the acquisition of Florida Bank Group Inc. and its 13 branches. The cash-and-stock deal, announced Friday, is valued at roughly $90.5 million.

Florida Bank has eight offices in the Tampa area, three in Jacksonville, one in Tallahassee and one in Sarasota. The bank focuses on small-business lending.

IberiaBank expects an internal rate of return on the acquisition of more than 20 percent.

“Florida’s been though a pretty tough time, so we’re coming off the bottom,” IberiaBank President and Chief Executive Officer Daryl Byrd said Friday. “We think it’s a great time to be growing the franchise in Florida.”

Byrd made his comments during a Friday morning conference call with stock analysts and investors and in a separate interview with The Advocate.

Markets like Tampa and Jacksonville are more commercial- and industrial-oriented, a banking segment that offers more growth opportunities and one in which IberiaBank has performed well, Byrd said.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area has $54.7 billion in deposits. Jacksonville has $47.9 billion.

Both areas are very concentrated with three or four banks dominating the market, Byrd said. IberiaBank is considering its growth strategy for those markets.

The deal increases IberiaBank’s presence in Florida to 50 branches and $2.9 billion in deposits, according to the company’s investor presentation. IberiaBank will move up three spots to the 21st-largest bank in Florida in terms of deposits.

Byrd said Florida Bank was hit hard by the financial crisis and lost $124 million between 2008 and 2011. The bank went from $838 million in assets in 2008 to the current $524 million as of June 30.

Florida Bank Group is IberiaBank’s third acquisition of 2014, and more may be on the way.

Byrd said while it’s never easy to predict mergers and acquisitions, IberiaBank is willing to look at a lot of different-sized deals.

“We still feel like we’re getting a fair amount of inbound volume, and we will continue to pursue those opportunities,” Byrd said.

Senior Executive Vice President John R. Davis said both the size of the potential acquisitions and their quality has increased in the last year or so.

IberiaBank has seen deals ranging from $150 million to the multibillion-dollar range, Davis said. There also have been high-quality institutions, something the bank hadn’t really seen prior to that.

Byrd said the company doesn’t look at growth in terms of pure size but by the markets it finds most desirable, such as Tampa.

“From a regulatory perspective, IberiaBank has put a lot of infrastructure in place over the past two or three years,” Byrd said. “From an operations and leverage perspective, we do want to get a little bit bigger to take advantage of that.”

Increasing the company’s total assets to around $20 billion would give IberiaBank more operating leverage, he said.

More operating leverage means the company has a higher proportion of fixed costs and a lower proportion of variable costs.

Florida Bank gets IberiaBank to around $16 billion in assets, he said. Organic growth, and other potential transactions, will boost that total.

“My guess is you’ll see us growing over the next year,” Byrd said.

IberiaBank fueled much of its earlier growth by grabbing up failed financial institutions. The strategy allowed IberiaBank to pick up assets for pennies on the dollar, and the bank has been praised for its ability to reduce the losses from bad loans. For example, the projected losses from three failed banks acquired in 2008 and 2009 originally were estimated at $1.4 billion. IberiaBank reduced that by nearly $300 million.

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