Back on top: How troubled BankUnited returned to life

Source: BankUnited

BankUnited is defying the odds. A casualty of the financial crisis, it has emerged as the nation's top performing mid-sized bank—resurrected by a leadership team regarded among the best in the business.

The Florida-based bank, which had succumbed to bad mortgages, is thriving and growing again, earning it the best-in-class honors from Bank Director magazine.

After a huge restructuring, it's now opening locations in New York. There are five BankUnited branches in the state—with a sixth due to open in Brooklyn next week.

New York is where much of BankUnited's management team resides, including CEO John Kanas, who is credited with bringing the bank back from the brink where it stood just four years ago.

A private equity group led by Kanas and W.L. Ross & Co.—famed investor Wilbur Ross' vulture capital firm—bought BankUnited in an unprecedented move. It was the first time the FDIC gave a private equity firm the go ahead to purchase a bank.

"We thought over time this would be profitable. We put up $900 million in the spring of 2009 to buy the whole company and entered into an agreement with the FDIC which required them to absorb 95 percent of the losses. Nineteen months later we took it public," Kanas said.