Popular nears sale of some mainland U.S. branches

|By:, SA News Editor

A deal for Popular (BPOP) to sell its Chicago and Southern California franchises along with some Florida branches to multiple buyers could be announced as soon as tomorrow, reports the WSJ (the bank reports Q1 earnings before the bell).

Popular's 12-branch Chicago-area franchise operates as Popular Community Bank, has more than $800M in deposits and $500M in loans, and could fetch $5M-$15M, according to Crain's, which two weeks ago reported the bank had hired RBC to manage the sale. Interested publicly traded parties looking for quick entree to Chicago's Hispanic market might include Wintrust Financial (WTFC), PrivateBancorp (PVTB), and First Midwest Bancorp (FMBI).

The Southern California branches have a deposit base of $1.2B.

Hit as hard as the next guy by the U.S. financial panic, Popular has also had to deal with the Puerto Rico's economic crisis in the years since, and has been shrinking mainland U.S. operations to shore up its balance sheet. The bank still owes $935M in bailout funds it received in 2008, and awaits word from the FRBNY over whether its application to repay those monies has been approved.