15 May, 2020

Apollo Bank, Tampa-based credit union terminate merger plan amid coronavirus uncertainty

BY ROB WILE

Apollo Bank and Tampa-based Suncoast Credit Union have mutually terminated a planned merger an-nounced in December of 2019.

The decision to withdraw the merger application with Suncoast’s regulator, the National Credit Union Administration, follows a series of coronavirus-related regulatory delays. An NCUA representative did not respond to a request for comment.

In an interview, Apollo chairman and CEO Eddy Arriola said he determined it was in the best interest of Apollo’s investors and employees to preempt the delays. He came to an agreement with Suncoast to call off the deal, terms of which were not disclosed.

“Given the events of the last 30 to 60 days…the position of the regulatory bodies changed as it relates to this deal,” Arriola said. “And then it became quite clear that we weren’t going to be able to close on the time frame expected.”

Kevin Johnson, Suncoast president and CEO, said in an interview there was just too much uncertainty to press on with the deal, which would have seen Suncoast acquire Apollo and extinguish the Apollo name.

“There’s a wide range of [economic] possibilities here,” Johnson said. “Anyone who tells you how deep this recession is going to be is just not being honest.”

Arriola and Johnson said the news in no way reflects changes to either bank’s financial position.

But Arriola said other large financial deals are likely to be put on hold as well, something Miami-area bankers echoed in a recent Miami Herald story on the health of local lenders.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, Apollo had approximately $745 million in assets, with a 5-star rating from Bauer Financial, a banking analysis firm. Arriola, who formed Apollo in 2010, describes the bank as a bou-tique lender to small business owners and entrepreneurs. In addition to its Brickell headquarters, Apollo has four other branches in Miami-Dade.

Suncoast, which would have been the acquiring party, had approximately $10.5 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2019. It also enjoyed a 5-star rating from Bauer. Its clients are primarily consumer and retail customers. It has approximately 70 branches up and down the state’s west coast.

Arriola said Apollo will now shift toward providing more enhanced and technologically up-to-date ser-vices to its client base, like allowing for loan applications and loan approvals online.

“We’re considering this the launch of Apollo 2.0,” he said.

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