Banking

CEO of U.S. Century Bank to step down

Carlos Davila will step down as president and CEO of U.S. Century Bank on Dec. 31 after three years at the beleaguered Doral-based bank.

A few months ago it wasn’t clear if U.S. Century, which received the largest bailout of any financial institution in Florida, would survive into the new year.

But in March the bank received a $65 million cash injection from a pair of Northeast investment firms that allowed it to say afloat and independent.

U.S. Century confirmed the news about Davila’s departure in a statement issued late Monday. “We have initiated a search for a CEO and hope to have a replacement within the next few weeks,” the bank said.

$50.2 millionAmount of bailout money U.S. Century received in 2009

Davila was appointed to his post in 2012 after serving as chief operating officer of Westernbank in his native Puerto Rico and as president of Citibank’s Florida and Puerto Rico operations.

Local banking analyst Ken Thomas said Davila was known in the industry as a “turnaround guy.”

“It was pretty clear when they hired him that he wasn’t going to be there for the long haul,” Thomas said. “He was the transition person. His job was to get them out from being a problem bank, to repay the [bailout] funds, find new capital and let them survive.”

With that job done, Thomas said, it was probably time for him to move on.

“The next big step is getting the right CEO who can help them expand again,” Thomas said.

[Davila] was the transition person,”

Ken Thomas, banking industry analyst

Nearly 70 banks have failed in Florida since 2009, according to Bankrate.com.

U.S. Century, founded in 2002, was nearly among them. Bad loans made during the real estate bubble almost sank the bank. Its struggles earned a $50.2 million loan from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program and a mandate from regulators to find new sources of capital.

Two deals to pump money into the bank fell through, the first from C1 Bank of St. Petersburg in 2012 and the second from local real estate developers Jorge Peréz, Jimmy Tate and Sergio Rok in 2013.

But the third time was the charm as Philadelphia-based Patriot Financial Partners and New York-based Priam Capital struck a $65 million deal to save the bank.

The new capital allowed U.S. Century, which has 20 branches in South Florida, to pay off the last of its bailout debt. (Late last year the bank also reached a $4.5 million settlement with investors who said senior officers of the bank were mismanaging funds and making insider transactions for their own benefit.)

“It’s a new beginning in the history of U.S. Century,” Davila told the Miami Herald after the recapitalization went through. “Today, the bank closes a chapter by resolving the majority of our issues that put us in a situation of being distressed.”

Bauer Financial recently upgraded the bank from one star to two in its closely watched ratings of financial institutions. The highest possible rating is five stars.

“No matter what you say about U.S. Century,” said Thomas, the analyst, “the fact is they’re still here and look how many other Florida banks aren’t.”

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