Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- EverBank Financial Corp., the largest bank based in Florida by deposits, is exploring a sale after receiving interest from a potential suitor, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Jacksonville-based lender has been working with UBS Group AG to solicit offers from possible buyers, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public. EverBank began working with UBS to gauge interest in a sale within the last two months, after receiving an unsolicited approach, the people said.

No deal has been reached and EverBank may decide to remain independent, they said. EverBank’s shares closed at $15.50 on Friday, giving it a market value of about $1.9 billion.

Representatives for EverBank and UBS declined to comment.

Mergers involving small and mid-sized banks have been accelerating, as regional lenders seek scale to better cope with higher regulatory costs and low interest rates. F.N.B. Corp. agreed to buy Yadkin Financial Corp. for about $1.4 billion last week, while Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce agreed to buy Chicago-based PrivateBancorp Inc. for $3.8 billion last month.

EverBank, which went public in 2012, provides personal and business loans across the U.S., and also operates a wealth-management division. It is primarily an online bank, with just 12 branches as of June 2015, according to the latest data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It made two acquisitions worth almost $3 billion combined in 2012, buying a warehouse finance business from MetLife Inc. and a commercial-property lending business from General Electric Co.

EverBank was the the largest Florida-based lender based on deposits as of June 2015, according to the FDIC data.

EverBank was among a number of small banks that raised money from private equity firms after the financial crisis to stabilize balance sheets. Its two largest investors are buyout firms Sageview Capital, which held more than 8 percent of its outstanding common shares as of March 15, and funds managed by TPG Capital, which held about 7 percent, according to its latest proxy filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Monks in New York at mmonks1@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey McCracken at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Fournier, Elizabeth Wollman

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