First BanCorp Inks Private Equity Deal

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ( TheStreet) -- First BanCorp ( FBP) on Tuesday announced a deal to sell $180 million in common shares to private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, "as part of a proposed aggregate $500 to $550 million capital raise," according to the bank.

Under the agreement, Thomas H. Lee Partners will purchase $180 million in newly issued common shares. at a price of $3.50 a share. That is a 32% discount to First Bancorp's closing price on Friday, of $5.12.

First BanCorp also said it "expects to issue to those shareholders who are holders of its common stock prior to the completion of the capital raise, rights that would entitle them to purchase common stock of the Corporation at $3.50 per share in a rights offering of up to $35 million in common equity."

The deal with Thomas H. Lee calls for First BanCorp to raise a total of between $500 million and $550 million in common equity, which will include a public offering, as well as shareholder approval of all common stock sales.

Regulatory approval will also be needed for the common stock sales and for Fist BanCorp's plan to convert "approximately $425 million of Series G Mandatorily Convertible Preferred Stock," held by the Treasury for bailout assistance through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, into common shares.

First BanCorp said that after the completion of its capital raise and the preferred conversion and TARP exit, the Thomas H. Lee Partners investment "would represent approximately 24.9% ownership of the Corporation."

Thomas H. Lee Partners will also gain the right to designate an appointment to First BanCorp's board of directors.

First BanCorp's competitor Popular, Inc. ( BPOP) also completed a conversion of TARP preferred shares. The company still owes $935 million in TARP money, having converted the preferred shares held by the Treasury to trust-preferred shares in the third quarter of 2009.

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-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

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Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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