A Cuban-born Florida banker has reached an agreement to acquire the biggest block of stock in Hemisphere National Bank -- the area's only Hispanic-controlled bank.
Abel Holtz, a 46-year-old Miami banker, will acquire approximately 34 percent of the bank's stock, paying $32 a share for 53,914 shares. The stock is now owned by the bank's Chairman and President Leveo Sanchez, Washington construction company owner Angel S. Roubin and other investors.
The shares were to be acquired by another group as part of a $3 million deal for 67 percent of the bank's stock. But the group, which included former Maryland Sen. Joseph D. Tydings, developer Robert N. Wolpe, former White House protocol chief Abelardo Valdez and physician Jose Solano, assigned its contract for the Sanchez block to Holtz.
"Holtz is a very successful banker from Miami with strong Hispanic ties who had been interested in the bank," said Jeffrey J. Milton, another investor who has served as attorney for the Tydings group. "We felt it would benefit the bank, the community and our group" to bring Holtz's banking expertise to Hemisphere, he said. Hemisphere is the 14th largest of Washington's 17 banks.
The Tydings group will still control the second-largest block -- 46,000 shares or approximately 30 percent of the bank's stock. That block includes 36,000 shares acquired for $23 a share from Nestor Julio Garcia, an Argentine banker who was Hemisphere's largest shareholder.
All these transactions are pending review by the Comptroller of the Currency. The Tydings group will file an amended application with that office reflecting the reduced amount of stock it plans to buy. Holtz also must file.
If the Comptroller's office approves the transactions and the Holtz purchase is consummated, Sanchez will step down as chairman and president of the bank.
Holtz was born in Cuba but emigrated to the United States 20 years ago in the early wave of immigration. He was trained as an attorney and certified public accountant in Cuba but practices neither profession here.
In 1974, the same year Hemisphere opened, Holtz founded Capital Bank in Miami. The bank has eight offices, all in Dade County, and $300 million in assets. It is also one of the nation's most profitable banks, according to a spokeswoman for Holtz.
Control of Hemisphere has been somewhat up in the air during the past year. At one point a group of investors headed by Jeffrey Cohen was seeking to buy control of the bank. Minority investors have raised concerns during the back-and-forth over transactions that control of the bank should remain in the hands of Hispanic investors.
"This ought to dissuade any more contentions," said Milton. However, Holtz's involvement was not in response to those complaints, he said. The Tydings group "always planned to maintain ties to the Hispanic community" and included two prominent Hispanic investors, he said.