Takeover talk swirls around Seacoast Bank and its “anemic” results

Courtesy Seacoast Banking Corp.

Courtesy Seacoast Banking Corp.

Another decade, another merger rumor for Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida. The Stuart-based bank — which has steadfastly stayed independent for 83 years — finds itself once again identified as a takeover target.

This time, though, the stakes might be higher: An owner of 20 percent of the company has publicly lambasted the bank for “anemic” profits and “excessive compensation.” In a letter to Seacoast directors this month, John Sullivan of CapGen Capital Group strongly suggested a sale.

“We also believe that Seacoast’s geographic footprint and customer base make it an attractive acquisition target for larger banks, and that there would be strong interest in the company, and an opportunity to realize a substantial premium, were Seacoast to explore strategic alternatives,” Sullivan wrote. “Unless Seacoast is able to achieve meaningful improvement in its operational execution and achieve similar operating metrics to well-run industry peers, we believe it will become imperative for the company to explore all alternatives to unlock value for shareholders.”

In a response to CapGen, Seacoast Chairman and President Dennis Hudson III called the investor’s suggestion “puzzling.”

“In the time since CapGen first invested in Seacoast, Seacoast has delivered exceptional returns for you and all other shareholders, and the board strongly believes that we will be able to continue to achieve robust earnings growth and shareholder value creation on a present value basis,” Hudson wrote.

After a shareholder vote this week, Hudson is still in charge, if barely. He was supported by just 52.5 percent of shareholders.

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