Ex-BoA Exec Raising Bank Deal Fund

NEW YORK/CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Reuters) – Former Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) Vice Chairman Gene Taylor is putting together a fund to invest in U.S. banks after a bid to inject capital into a small Florida bank fell apart, sources familiar with the matter said.

Taylor is backed by Crestview Partners LP, the sources said, declining to be identified because the talks are private.

Crestview, Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG.N) and Lightyear Capital agreed earlier this year to invest in First Southern Bancorp Inc (FSOF.PK) and install Taylor as its head, but the deal fell apart, the sources said.

Taylor’s group, which includes other former Bank of America executives and is called North American Financial Holdings, has raised $550 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The fund has got significant commitments,” said Marc Oken, managing director of Charlotte-based Falfurrias Capital Partners, an investor in the fund, who did not specify the size of his investment.

As a longtime lieutenant to Bank of America CEOs, Taylor oversaw the integration of dozens of banks, especially in the U.S. Southeast.

He is the latest among several former bank executives who have been raising pools of capital to invest in the banking sector, mostly to buy failed institutions from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Private investors have so far won few deals, although regulators remain concerned about allowing private equity investors into the banking sector in a big way.

It is unclear how many such funds will ultimately be able to take over failed institutions.

Crestview declined to comment. Taylor and the other companies could not be reached immediately for comment.

By Paritosh Bansal and Joe Rauch