Weston bank to acquire Great Florida Bank

Florida Community Bank to acquire Great Florida Bank

Weston-based Florida Community Bank expects to grow into the fourth largest bank headquartered in the state when it finishes acquiring the struggling Great Florida Bank by the end of the month.

Florida Community received regulatory approval to acquire Great Florida, a Miami Lakes-based bank hit hard by the Great Recession.

"Consumers of both institutions will benefit from this expanded choice in locations, as well as banking experience and product offering brought by this merger," Florida Community Bank President and CEO Kent Ellert, said in a written statement.

The acquisition will more than double Florida Community's presence in South Florida, Ellert said. It currently has four branches in Palm Beach County and one in Broward while Great Financial has 10 Broward branches and one in Boynton Beach.


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Florida Community also expects the merger to help it expand its commercial lending, Ellert said.

The financially strong Florida Community Bank, a subsidiary of Bond Street Holdings, now has more than $3.8 billion in assets and receives the highest rating -- five stars -- by Bauer Financial, a Coral Gables-based research group.

Great Florida, however, receives the group’s lowest rating -- zero stars -- and is in the group’s Troubled and Problematic Report.

Great Florida "one of our most successful starts ups at the time," [in 2004] got into problems with bad loans when the real estate bust hit in 2007, South Florida bank analyst Ken Thomas said. The bank has improved its amount of delinquent loans and leases to $62.5 million as of Sept. 30 after having nearly double that a year earlier, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

dgehrke@tribune.com or Twitter @donnagehrke