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US to auction off warrants for Boston Private stock

Firm will leave relief program

By Beth Healy
Globe Staff / February 1, 2011

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Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc. will exit the government’s program to support banks when the Treasury Department today auctions off nearly 2.9 million warrants for stock in the company.

Boston Private had already repaid the $154 million capital infusion it received under the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, launched during the financial crisis to shore up hundreds of institutions.

The government is expected to raise about $7 million for taxpayers on the sale of the warrants, according to Linus Wilson, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who has been tracking the program.

Eighteen warrant auctions around the country have generated $5.3 billion, he said.

Boston Private was one of 11 Massachusetts institutions that received money under the federal program. Seven have repaid the government. This is the first local institution to have the government auction off its warrants, rather than buying them back.

The warrant sale will be handled as a Dutch auction, with investors placing bids at a minimum price of $1.40 per warrant from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Purchase of the warrants will give the holder the right to buy Boston Private common stock at $8 per share through November 2018. Boston Private shares closed yesterday at $6.71, down a penny.

Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.