U.S. Century Bank appoints Luis de la Aguilera as CEO

De la Aguilera
De la Aguilera

Luis de la Aguilera is taking over as president and CEO of U.S. Century Bank a day after resigning from the same position at TotalBank, which saw major layoffs last month.

Federal and state regulators are expected to approve his appointment. De la Aguilera, 56, starts his new job Monday.

“U.S. Century is a bank with good bones,” said de la Aguilera, who came to Miami from Cuba when he was 2 years old. “It has a strong banking center network, good talent and a tremendously loyal client base.”

Previous CEO and president Carlos Davila announced he would step down last month.

The Doral-based bank nearly went under during the financial crisis, receiving $50.2 million in federal bailout money in 2009.

Two deals to recapitalize the bank with private money, as ordered by regulators, failed in 2012 and 2013. But earlier this year the bank received a $65 million capital injection from two Northeast financial firms, allowing it to stay afloat and repay part of its bailout.

$65 millionAmount of capital injection that kept bank afloat in March

Current shareholders had their stock diluted, but as a group still control a little more than 50 percent of U.S. Century. The Northeast firms, Patriot Financial Partners and Priam Capital, are the largest individual shareholders, each controlling nearly 10 percent of the bank.

U.S. Century has 18 branches, 205 employees and nearly $800 million in deposits. Bauer Financial recently bumped it up from a one-star to a two-star rating. (The highest rating is five stars.)

“Great progress has been made, and my goal is to bring back the brand of U.S. Century and show the potential that it has,” De la Aguilera said. “Clearly the bank has had to weather the storms of the financial crisis, but it hung in there.”

He added that he plans to diversify the bank’s business, which has focused on commercial real estate, by expanding its residential mortgage and commercial and industrial lending divisions.

De la Aguilera spent 15 years at TotalBank, becoming president in 2009 and CEO in 2013. He resigned Monday, about a month after the Miami-based bank confirmed it had laid off 58 workers. Former employees said the number was more than 100.

He said his departure was unrelated to turmoil at the bank.

“I am not leaving because of the layoffs,” he said. “I fully support the decisions that were made, and I have an excellent relationship with the board there. U.S. Century was just an outstanding opportunity for me.”

I am not leaving because of the layoffs.

Luis de la Aguilera.

U.S. Century chairman Alex Acosta said the board picked de la Aguilera, who has also worked at City National Bank of Miami, Republic National Bank of Miami and Ocean Bank, because they wanted someone their customers knew and could trust.

“Luis has a proven track record as a leader in our community and knows the Miami market,” Acosta said. “We think he can help us diversify and grow.”

De la Aguilera graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in 1981 after attending Christopher Columbus High School. He is a top fundraiser for Castaways Against Cancer, a local group that kayaks 160 miles from Miami to Key West to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Ken Thomas, a local banking analyst, said it was important to have locals running South Florida’s community banks.

“They could have brought someone in from Philadelphia or New York,” Thomas said. “The big question is where do they go from here? They were a serious problem bank that was in intensive care for a few years but now they’re in recovery mode. I hope we see them announcing new loans and projects and opening new branches.”

Nicholas Nehamas: 305-376-3745, @NickNehamas