Customers Bank sells BankMobile for $175M

Customers Bancorp Inc., Wyomissing, says it has agreed to sell its 220-employee BankMobile division to Clearwater, Fla.-based Flagship Community Bank for $175 million in cash., adding $100 million to Customers' bottom line, after expenses.

The sale wasn't a surprise: Customers boss Jay S. Sidhu had said he was in "final negotiations" on the deal last month, noted bank analyst Frank Schiraldi in a note to clients of Sandler O'Neill + Partners, New York, in a report this morning. 

"Based on $700 million in average [BankMobile] deposits in 2017, the deal represents a 25% core deposit premium," which "seems high," but could be defended on grounds the business is growing, Schiraldi added.

If BankMobile earns as much as $30 million a year by 2019, the sale works out to 6X estimated earnings, he concluded. "Customers investors should be pleased," and the bank should now be able to grow "a bit faster" with the new capital.   

In a statement, Sidhu said BankMobile serves 1.7 million college students, and collects revenues from the fees merchants pay when the students use their BankMobile debit cards.

Sidhu had told investors last year that he was planning to sell BankMobile to avoid the additional federal scrutiny and compliance expense that focuses on banks with more than $10 billion in assets -- a little larger than Customers' current size.

Banks are lobbying the Trump administration to increase the $10 billion rule ("Durbin amendment") and other restrictions designed to make banks safer, following the late 2000s financial crisis sparked by banks and loan investors making and reselling too many home loans to homeowners and investors who didn't pay them back.

In a statement, Flagship boss Frank Burke said he "welcomed the BankMobile team" and would use the business to grow his bank's digital business beyond Florida.

Customers' advisers includeded Stifel & Co.'s Keefe Bruyette & Woods and the law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.