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Joint Bid Considered for BankUnited: Report

Investor Wilbur Ross and private equity group Carlyle are considering a joint bid for BankUnited Financial (BKUNA), a troubled Florida-based bank, the Financial Times reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

BankUnited said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing at the end of January that it hadn't been able to comply with a regulatory order to raise capital, and faced "enforcement action," which could include placing the bank into receivership. The bank made clear it was unable to raise capital during the fourth quarter of 2008 and meet the requirement of a regulatory order from the Office of Thrift Supervision to increase its tier-1 ratio to a minimum of 7% and risk-based capital ratio to 14%, reported last month.

BankUnited has about $14.5 billion in total assets.

It didn't return a call for comment from the Financial Times.

Carlyle has been among the more cautious private equity investors in making investments in financial companies, according to the Financial Times. Ross, by contrast, said he is looking at more than 100 banks after buying several mortgage servicing operations.

Nine months ago, another major private equity firm considered investing in BankUnited but decided against such a move, the newspaper reports, citing a person familiar with the firm's deliberations. But with "government guarantees and protection on the downside, we might reconsider," the person said.

Ross and Carlyle were conducting due diligence just as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday is reportedly set to reveal a plan that will include provisions that will allow the private sector to purchase bad assets on the balance sheets of troubled banks, considered to be the root problem of the financial crisis.
This article was written by a staff member of

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