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Front Page » Top Stories » Bankunited Headquarters Leaving Gables For Miami Lakes

Bankunited Headquarters Leaving Gables For Miami Lakes

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Written by on September 24, 2009

By Zachary S. Fagenson
After months of silence, BankUnited says it plans to consolidate its operations and staff, including its three-floor executive offices in Coral Gables’ 255 Alhambra Circle, to its facilities at 7815 NW 148th St. in Miami Lakes.

"Over the next few months we will move staff from Alhambra and other offices to space in our existing Miami Lakes operations center," BankUnited spokesperson Melissa Gracey wrote in an e-mail late Tuesday. "Having the entire management team, sales-support area and bank operations functions together will make us more efficient as we build the new BankUnited."

In recent months, bank officials have been mum on whether they planned to move the headquarters. In prior interviews, both Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce President Mark Trowbridge and Mayor Donald Slesnick II said they reached out to new bank leadership in hopes of convincing them to stay but didn’t receive a response.

And while the headquarters may no longer call Coral Gables home, the bank does plan to bolster its branch presence in the city.

"We expect to raise our profile in Coral Gables and intend to hire more private bankers to service this market," Ms. Gracey wrote. She also said the bank may relocate some Gables branches to larger, more modern facilities.

After federal regulators took over the bank in late May, a group of private-equity funds led by New York banker John Kanas bought BankUnited for about $900 million, assuming $12.7 billion in assets and $8.3 billion in deposits.

Under a loss-sharing agreement, the failure cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. $4.9 billion. The federal government also agreed to share in a percentage of losses up to $10.7

billion of the new bank’s assets.

Since new owners took over, officials have said the bank would stay away from wholesale mortgage origination and lean toward commercial lending.

"It’s a very profitable business and a loyal business," said Senior Executive Vice President Carlos Fernandez-Guzman in an earlier interview. "We moved away from wholesale loan origination well over a year ago [and] the opportunity in Florida, ever since I can remember, has been always that small- to mid-size business sector."

This month, the bank announced a new line of loans for small- and mid-size businesses under the "Express Credit" flag. The program aims to turn around loan applications under $75,000 within 24 hours, larger loans in a few days.

The bank also has been ramping up commercial lending staff. Nic Bustle, formerly Miami city president for Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank, has joined BankUnited as a senior executive vice president in commercial lending.

Mr. Bustle is "overseeing the small business, middle market, commercial real estate and corporate lending areas," Ms. Gracey wrote by e-mail Tuesday.

During the second quarter, BankUnited earned $37.6 million, with $30.8 million from

net interest income. The short quarter began May 22, the day after the bank came out of receivership. During the same time, its assets dropped to $11.27 billion while non-current

loans dropped to $1.08 billion from $1.48 billion in March.