December 12, 2012 at 08:00 AM EST
First BanCorp Announces Proposed Exchange Offer

First BanCorp (the "Corporation") (NYSE:FBP) announced today that it is planning to conduct an exchange offer under which it will offer to exchange newly issued shares of common stock for any and all of the issued and outstanding shares of publicly held Series A through E Noncumulative Perpetual Monthly Income Preferred Stock (the "Preferred Stock"). The Corporation filed a registration statement for the exchange offer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on December 12, 2012, which has not yet become effective. Shares of Preferred Stock may not be exchanged nor shares of common stock issued prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective. Completion of the exchange offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the approval by holders of two-thirds of the Preferred Stock and a majority of outstanding shares of the Corporation’s common stock to amend the Preferred Stock certificates of designation to remove the provision that entitles holders of Preferred Stock to appoint two additional directors when the Corporation has not paid dividends on the Preferred Stock for 18 monthly periods, as is the case now.

This does not constitute an offer of any securities for exchange or sale. Holders of the Preferred Stock should read the registration statement for the exchange offer as it contains important information about the exchange offer. The registration statement will be available for free on the Securities and Exchange Commission's website, www.sec.gov, and the prospectus included in the registration statement will be available for free from the Corporation by writing to us at the following address: First BanCorp., Attention: Lawrence Odell, Secretary, P.O. Box 9146, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00908-0146. Telephone requests may be directed to (787) 729-8041. E-mail requests may be directed to lawrence.odell@firstbankpr.com

Safe Harbor

This press release may contain “forward-looking statements” concerning the Corporation’s future economic performance. The words or phrases “expect,” “anticipate,” “look forward,” “should,” “believes” and similar expressions are meant to identify “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and are subject to the safe harbor created by such section. The Corporation wishes to caution readers not to place undue reliance on any such “forward-looking statements,” which speak only as of the date made, and to advise readers that various factors, including, but not limited to, the following could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by such forward-looking statements: uncertainty about whether the Corporation and FirstBank Puerto Rico (“FirstBank”) will be able to fully comply with the written agreement dated June 3, 2010 that the Corporation entered into with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“FED”) and the order dated June 2, 2010 that the Corporation’s banking subsidiary FirstBank entered into with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) and the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that, among other things, require FirstBank to maintain certain capital levels and reduce its special mention, classified, delinquent and non-performing assets; the risk of being subject to possible additional regulatory actions; uncertainty as to the availability of certain funding sources, such as retail brokered certificates of deposit (“CDs”); the Corporation’s reliance on brokered CDs and its ability to obtain, on a periodic basis, approval from the FDIC to issue brokered CDs to fund operations and provide liquidity in accordance with the terms of the FDIC Order; the risk of not being able to fulfill the Corporation’s cash obligations or resume paying dividends to the Corporation’s stockholders in the future due to the Corporation’s inability to receive approval from the FED to receive dividends from FirstBank or FirstBank’s failure to generate sufficient cash flow to make a dividend payment to the Corporation; the strength or weakness of the real estate markets and of the consumer and commercial credit sectors and their impact on the credit quality of the Corporation’s loans and other assets, including the Corporation’s construction and commercial real estate loan portfolios, which have contributed and may continue to contribute to, among other things, the high levels of non-performing assets, charge-offs and the provision expense and may subject the Corporation to further risk from loan defaults and foreclosures; adverse changes in general economic conditions in Puerto Rico, the United States (“U.S.”) and in the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands, including the interest rate environment, market liquidity, housing absorption rates, real estate prices and disruptions in the U.S. capital markets, which may reduce interest margins, impact funding sources, and affect demand for all of the Corporation’s products and services and reduce the Corporation’s revenues, earnings and the value of the Corporation’s assets; an adverse change in the Corporation’s ability to attract new clients and retain existing ones; a decrease in demand for the Corporation’s products and services and lower revenues and earnings because of the continued recession in Puerto Rico, the current fiscal problems and budget deficit of the Puerto Rico government; and recent credit downgrades of the Puerto Rico government; uncertainty about regulatory and legislative changes for financial services companies in Puerto Rico, the U.S. and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, which could affect the Corporation’s financial condition or performance and could cause the Corporation’s actual results for future periods to differ materially from prior results and anticipated or projected results; uncertainty regarding the timing and final substance of any capital or liquidity standards, including the Final Basel III requirements and their implementation through rulemaking by the Federal Reserve, including anticipated requirements to hold higher levels of regulatory capital and liquidity and meet higher regulatory capital ratios as a result of Final Basel III or other capital or liquidity standards; uncertainty about the effectiveness of the various actions undertaken to stimulate the U.S. economy and stabilize the U.S. financial markets, and the impact such actions may have on the Corporation's business, financial condition and results of operations; changes in the fiscal and monetary policies and regulations of the federal government, including those determined by the FED, the FDIC, government-sponsored housing agencies and regulators in Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands; the risk of possible failure or circumvention of controls and procedures and the risk that the Corporation’s risk management policies may not be adequate; the risk that the FDIC may further increase the deposit insurance premium and/or require special assessments to replenish its insurance fund, causing an additional increase in the Corporation’s non-interest expenses; the risk of not being able to recover the assets pledged to Lehman Brothers Special Financing, Inc.; the impact on the Corporation’s results of operations and financial condition of acquisition and disposition transactions; a need to recognize additional impairments on financial instruments, goodwill or other intangible assets relating to acquisitions; risks that downgrades in the credit ratings of the Corporation’s long-term senior debt will adversely affect the Corporation’s ability to access necessary external funds; the impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on the Corporation’s businesses, business practices and cost of operations; and general competitive factors and industry consolidation. The Corporation does not undertake, and specifically disclaims any obligation, to update any “forward-looking statements” to reflect occurrences or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements except as required by the federal securities laws.

About First BanCorp

First BanCorp is the parent corporation of FirstBank Puerto Rico, a state-chartered commercial bank with operations in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Florida, and of FirstBank Insurance Agency. First BanCorp and FirstBank Puerto Rico operate within U.S. banking laws and regulations. The Corporation operates a total of 157 branches, stand-alone offices and in-branch service centers throughout Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and Florida. Among the subsidiaries of FirstBank Puerto Rico are First Federal Finance Corp., a small loan company; FirstBank Puerto Rico Securities, a broker-dealer subsidiary; First Management of Puerto Rico; and FirstMortgage, Inc., a mortgage origination company. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, FirstBank operates First Express, a small loan company. First BanCorp’s common shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FBP.

Contacts:

First BanCorp
John B. Pelling III, 305-577-6000 Ext. 162
Investor Relations Officer
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