New Chair Henriques mum on future of Gibraltar Bank
By Zachary S. Fagenson
While Gibraltar Bank & Private Trust's new chairman won't say whether its holding company is preparing the bank for sale, he says the bank, and its private wealth-management operations, remain strong.
Adolfo Henriques, vice chairman of the Related Group and a consultant for Flagler Development Group and Florida East Coast Industries, was named non-executive chairman of Gibraltar's board in late July. Mr. Henriques said he also sits on the board of the bank's parent company, Boston Private Financial Holdings.
Steven Hayworth, founder and CEO of Gibraltar Bank, did not return calls seeking comment on Mr. Henriques' role.
While Mr. Henriques, who was in the past CEO for the Regions Bank's South region, is known for his role in Florida East Coast Industries' 2006 takeover of the real-estate developer Codina Group, he said Boston Private Financial plans on staying in the wealth management game.
"It really is like other financial institutions dealing with the current financial crisis that exists not just at the local level but also globally," he said by telephone last week. "Even as a result of that, it's a very strong, well-capped organization."
"The wealth management business is one of the few areas that continues to grow [and] Boston [Private Financial Holdings'] outlook is to remaining involved in wealth management," he added.
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Web site, the bank lost $958,000 in the first quarter of 2009. Its non-current loans and leases jumped from $20.4 million in March 2008 to $32.8 in March 2009. Those non-performing loans represent 2% of Gibraltar's total current assets, which rose from $1.56 billion to $1.64 billion during the same period.
Meanwhile, Boston Private Financial reported a $7.3 million loss during the second quarter of fiscal 2009. In late March, the company sold 76% of its interest in Palo Alto-based Sand Hill Advisors LLC and Boston Private Value Investors to both companies' executive teams. Both are wealth management firms.
As of Tuesday, shares of Boston Private Financial were trading at about $5.84 each. While the stock's 52-week low is $2.07, its current trading value is a far cry from its 10-year high of $33.79 in March 2006.
But Ken Thomas, a Miami-based banking consultant and economist, said not to read too deeply into Mr. Henriques' role at the bank.
"Usually, the banks that are wealth management banks have done pretty well throughout the crisis," he said. "As far as saying he's brought in to get the bank ready for a sale, I'd be careful to read too much into that."
Mr. Henriques' role in corporate and non-profit circles, Mr. Thomas argued, could also mean the bank is bringing in someone with some status to help improve the bank's image and operations.
"He's got an impressive banking background, and of course with his experience with Florida East Coast [Industries,] he's well-connected in corporate circle and politically," Mr. Thomas said. "Those are the type of individuals that every bank would love to have on board."