Friday, November 12, 2010

This Week in Bank Failures

Nationwide Insurance, which was burned by mortgage-backed securities in 2008, has decided it can reduce its mortgage-related risks by relying less on the securities market and doing more mortgage lending of its own. It might seem like a strange time for a financial company to be making a move in the U.S. mortgage market, but a lender with good underwriting that can find gaps in the market can do well.

Tonight in Georgia, state regulators closed Darby Bank & Trust Co. of Vidalia, Georgia. The failed bank had $588 million in deposits at seven locations. The deposits were transferred to Ameris Bank, which is also purchasing the assets. 

Darby Bank had been operating since 1927. As of September, more than a third of its real estate loans were facing some kind of distress. 

Separately, in Tifton, Georgia, Tifton Banking Co. failed and its $142 million in deposits were also acquired by Ameris Bank. Tifton Banking Co. had the bad luck of opening for business in 2004, just as the Georgia economy was starting to decline. 

Across the country, in the Phoenix, Arizona, area, state regulators closed Copper Star Bank. Minnesota-based Stearns Bank paid a 1 percent premium for the $190 million in deposits and is also purchasing the assets.