Feds to ParticipateIn BankUnited Loss

Washington-A group of private equity investors led by former North Fork Bank chief John Kanas bought ailing payment-option ARM investor BankUnited of Florida in a federally assisted transaction where the government could share in losses on up to 84% of its assets.

Several different private equity funds are part of the investor group including one headed by Wilbur Ross, who has already bought two large residential servicing companies, both on the cheap.

One investment banking source said BU's $4.9 billion in payment-option ARMs might eventually be serviced by Mr. Ross' American Home Mortgage in Irving, Texas.

Another investor in the consortium is Centerbridge Capital Partners, which owns Green Tree Servicing of Minneapolis. The Kanas group bought the $12.8 billion asset BankUnited FSB of Coral Gables (along with $8.3 billion in non-brokered deposits) recently for $900 million.

Other investors in the Kanas group include Carlyle Investment Management, Blackstone Capital, the LeFrak Organization, the Wellcome Trust, Greenaap Investments and East Rock Endowment Fund.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. had been entertaining bids on BankUnited for several weeks. The deal closed in late May after the Office of Thrift Supervision officially took control of the thrift and handed it over to the FDIC.

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