A few months ago, Frank Holding Jr. was the head of a little-known lender in North Carolina. Now, following the turmoil in U.S. regional banks, he’s sitting atop one of the world’s fastest-growing fortunes.
Holding, 61, and his extended family have seen the value of their holding in First Citizens BancShares Inc. double since late March, after the Raleigh-based lender emerged as the buyer for Silicon Valley Bank’s assets.
With shares now at a record high, that stake is worth about $2.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The stock climbed 7.5% to $1,175.35 on Wednesday after the bank reported deposits surpassed estimates following its rescue deal for SVB — a closely watched metric, since a run on deposits wiped out the California lender.
The family behind First Citizens is split across at least five branches, with the extended group besides Frank Holding comprising a handful of the bank’s executives, including President Peter Bristow. The dynasty traces its roots back 125 years to a single branch in rural North Carolina founded with $10,000 of capital.
The First Citizens’ stake makes up the bulk of the family’s fortune, though it has also received at least $35 million through dividends and share sales over the past four decades and diversified into commercial real estate and farming.
The year started badly for First Citizens, with shares tumbling almost 40% in the two months through mid-March as investors became jittery over deposit levels and unrealized losses on bond investments at many smaller banks. But since First Citizens announced it would acquire SVB, its stock has more than doubled, compared with a 15% slide in the KBW Regional Banking Index.
Even though the family doesn’t hold a majority of First Citizens’ equity, it has maintained a tight grip by employing a dual-class share structure. Holding and his relatives own Class B shares with 16 voting rights each, compared with the single vote for the Class A version they also hold. They’ve passed down their wealth generation to generation by shifting stock to scores of trusts.
Holding became CEO in 2008, following his father and uncle in leading the business. He has helped expand First Citizens by scooping up at least a dozen failed lenders since taking the top job.
He already took advantage of SVB’s collapse by joining other regional bank executives in snapping up shares of their companies. Holding spent $260,000 buying First Citizens stock in early March for $650 a share, according to regulatory filings. They’re now worth 81% more.