Buyers balk as bank deals get pricey


The fast pace of smaller bank roll-ups looks set to take a pause as acquirers shy away from higher prices and instead focus on integrating recent purchases. Deal prices this year have climbed to an average of 136.8% of TBV vs. 128.7% in 2013 and 120.3% in 2012, according to SNL Financial.

Of course, higher stock prices make it easier to pay, with SNL's Bank & Thrift Index now trading near 170% of TBV from 145% about a year earlier.

Speaking at a recent conference, BankUnited (BKU +1.9%)CEO John Kanas says a strong currency is of little use if the target bank can't grow its business at the same multiple as his bank. Further, any buyer should be prepared to spend a year distracted with regulators.

Still on the hunt, Home BancShares (HOMB +3.3%) CEO Randy Sims takes note of frothy seller expectations, noting a number of deals where the seller has baked in 50% growth into its asking price.

Hancock Holdings (HBHC +3.1%) chief Carl Chaney agrees prices are rising, but so too is the quality of the books he's looking at.

Trustmark (TRMK +3.7%) CEO Gerard Host says growth is necessary now that the bank's passed $10B in assets and faces a whole host of new regulations and costs. "We're going to have to pay to do the deals we want to do ... It's not just about money."

Old National Bancorp (ONB +2.5%) CEO Bob Jones says he spends nearly 20% of his time talking to CEOs and boards of potential targets and these things take time. The recently closed purchase of Tower Financial, he says, was 10 years in the making.

Also presenting: BXS, FFCH, UBSH, PB

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