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Offshore Bank for Sale

International and Offshore Banks for Sale – Purchasing an offshore bank

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Our experience

We can assist with offshore banks for sale in a variety of countries. We also specialize in the purchase of international banks licensed in Puerto Rico. Most of the time we’re on the buy-side of the transaction, but we have also assisted with the sale of offshore bank licenses. 

There are generally 5 levels of international and offshore banks for sale:

  1. Buy a Permit to Organize
  2. Buy a Bank License (Permit to Operate)
  3. Buy an operating bank with basic correspondent accounts
  4. Buy an international bank with a top tier correspondent account or a US FedWire account
  5. Buy an offshore bank with operations, quality correspondent accounts, and a book of business (loans, accounts, etc). 

 

A Permit to Organize an international bank is issued by regulators after they’ve reviewed your business plan, the people behind your bank, and your available capital. It’s basically a permit that allows you to form a company with the word “Bank” in the name and the government giving you the green light to open a bank in their country. 

After you have your Permit to Organise, you’ll hire your employees, set up your core software and hardware, build out your office, and generally do all the things necessary to launch a bank. The Permit to Organize is the very first step in the licensing process… though, it can often be the most difficult. 

The purchase of a Permit to Organize is usually done when the buyer wants to get to market as quickly as possible but doesn’t want to spend the cash for a fully operational bank. We also see strategic investors coming in at this stage (where the bank sells a convertible bond or some other investment scenario). A Permit to Operate will usually sell for $1 million to $1.5 million.

The next option is the sale of an offshore bank license or the sale of an international bank license… where the seller is offering only the paper license. The bank has no employees, operations, software, or correspondent accounts. 

It’s rare to find a pure bank license for sale from a reputable jurisdiction such as Puerto Rico, Panama, Luxemburg, or Switzerland. It is common to see them from lesser countries such as Dominica where the government will issue a license knowing the licensee will flip it to a buyer.

The only time you see a pure banking license for sale from a top offshore jurisdiction is when that license is held by a bank licensed in another country. For example, a bank in Belize sets up a bank in Puerto Rico. The bank in Belize goes out of business and the license in Puerto Rico goes up for sale (this was an actual case). 

A banking license from Puerto Rico or the Cayman Islands might sell for $2 million or more. A license from Switzerland, Panama, or Mexico might sell for $10 million. Again, this is just the paper and the bank will have no operations. 

The next level is to buy an operating bank’s license with basic correspondent accounts or to buy an international bank with top-level correspondent accounts or a US FedWire account. An operating bank typically has its core systems, office, and 4 or 5 employees. When you buy an operating bank, you are purchasing a turn-key solution. 

In this case, we value the bank license, the software and all operational assets, and the quality of the correspondent bank. An offshore bank with a top tier correspondent, such as HSBC or automated FedWire, will be the most valuable. Next will be an international bank with manual FedWire or one with a mid-size correspondent. The least valuable will be a bank with a money service correspondent or a lesser wire service provider. 

  • US FedWire is only available to international banks licensed in the US territory of Puerto Rico. 

An operational bank usually becomes available when a bank loses its client base or the primary shareholder moves on, taking the clients with him/her. So, these banks are fully operational but do not have a book of business. 

Most operational banks sell for $3.25 million to $4.5 million. It’s possible to find an operational bank for sale at $3 million, especially if one of the shareholders has run afoul of regulators one way or the other. An operational bank with FedWire will sell for $4.5 million or more.

Finally, we may find an operational bank with a solid book of business. The value of these banks is the same as a fully operational bank plus the NVP or cashflow value of the client base. The value of the book of business is often paid out over time to ensure that all the clients don’t leave the bank upon the sale. 

Of these levels of banks for sale, the most common is the sale of an offshore bank with basic correspondent accounts and the sale of an offshore bank with advanced correspondent accounts. It’s rare to see a bank up for sale with a large book of business. It’s also rare for only the license to be sold (though, we handled one of these in 2019) or for a Permit to Organize to be sold. 

Contact us

I hope you’ve found this article on offshore and international banks for sale to be helpful. For more information, please contact us at EMAIL or PHONE. We will be happy to search out and negotiate the purchase of a bank license that fits your criteria.