The New York Times in an editorial today endorsed President Obama's choice of North Carolina's Mel Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Here's what the Times had to say:
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Small business lending is showing small signs of growth, according to data compiled by the government.
The total amount of small business loans outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter came to $586 billion, up from $584 billion in the third quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That was the first quarterly gain in small business lending since the FDIC began tracking loans on a quarterly basis at the start of 2010. The FDIC is a government agency that insures bank deposits and oversees financial companies.
The investment firm that bought Raleigh-based Capital Bank this year has filed plans for an initial public offering of stock, Charlotte Observer staff writer Rick Rothacker reports.
North American Financial Holdings is seeking to raise as much as $300 million by selling shares on Wall Street.
Its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as is typical, does not yet say how many shares the company will issue, what the initial price will be and what ticker symbol the company will trade under.
NAFH is a bank holding company led by former Bank of America executives Gene Taylor and Chris Marshall that raised $900 million from investors in 2009 to buy troubled banks. Since last summer, the executives have bought five banks in the Carolinas and Florida and have a deal pending to acquire a Tennessee-based bank.
NAFH plans to consolidate its banking subsidiaries under the name Capital Bank.
Read the full Charlotte Observer story here.
First Citizens BancShares reported that first-quarter earnings fell, mostly because the Raleigh-based bank had a smaller after-tax gain related to its takeover of other failed banks.
First Citizens is one of the Triangle's largest community banks, with 440 branches.
In recent years, it's been expanding through takeovers orchestrated with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Those deals allow First Citizens to increase its business with minimal risk since loan losses are typically covered by the FDIC.
During the first quarter of 2010, the company had an after-tax gain of $82.7 million from its acquisition of failed banks in California and Florida. In the latest quarter, the gain was $39.9 million, tied to the takeover of a Colorado bank.
First Citizens Bank orchestrated a deal with federal regulators to take over a failed Colorado bank with eight branches.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced late Friday that it closed United Western Bank, which had about $2.05 billion in assets. Its branches in Denver, Boulder and other Colorado cities will reopen on Monday morning under the First Citizens name.
It's the first FDIC-brokered takeover for Raleigh-based First Citizens in nearly a year. In 2009 and early 2010, First Citizens bought four failed banks through the FDIC, including in California and Florida.
Federal regulators closed the Bank of Asheville this afternoon, marking the first bank failure in North Carolina since 2009.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Bank of Asheville, which has five branches and $195.1 million in assets. The FDIC also orchestrated a deal to transfer the assets to First Bank, a lender based in Troy, N.C., with 92 branches.
The Bank of Asheville branches will reopen Monday under the First Bank name.
The FDIC also seized CommunitySouth Bank and Trust, based in Easley, S.C., with $440.6 million in assets. That brings the number of closures nationwide this year to five, following 157 last year.
Foreclosure filings increased 41 percent in North Carolina and 25 percent in the Raleigh-Cary area in 2010, according to year-end data from RealtyTrac, a research firm based in Irvine, Calif.
That far outpaced filings for the entire U.S., which increased 2 percent.
There were 40,151 filings in North Carolina and 2.87 million across the entire country.
North Carolina had a foreclosure filing for every 45 homes. In Raleigh-Cary the rate was one for every 82 homes.
One of the state's top banking regulators is leaving to run a new consumer protection unit of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Washington.
Mark Pearce became N.C.'s chief deputy commissioner of banks in 2009. Next month, he will become director of the FDIC's Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, which will help carry out new responsibilities under the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial reform act.
Pearce developed and managed the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Project for the N.C. bank commissioner's office. A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Pearce previously worked for more than 10 years at the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham.
"I am very pleased to have Mark Pearce join the FDIC," chairwoman Sheila Bair said in a statement. "He brings a wealth of experience in financial sector supervision at the state level with a strong focus on consumer protection. He also is a proven manager and leader having held leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors."
Wachovia has started replacing its ATMs in the Triangle with next-generation machines, part of the bank's transformation under the ownership of Wells Fargo.
The new, high-tech ATMs will be able to scan and add up checks without deposit envelopes, count cash deposits and remember your most frequent transactions -- and offer those options when you sign in. The ATMs also will offer six languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Korean and Vietnamese.
Wells Fargo bought Wachovia late last year and is just beginning to convert branches in other states to the new name. Branches in North Carolina aren't scheduled to change until early 2011. This state will be the last one converted because Wachovia has such a large market here, said Jack Clayton, regional president for the bank's Triangle East region.
But installing the new ATMs is part of a broader effort to integrate Wells Fargo systems and technology, and begin to make customers familiar with the brand, Clayton said.
Capital Bank, the Raleigh-based lender with 32 branches, plans to raise as much as $55 million by selling new shares.
The publicly traded bank will use the stock sale to strengthen its balance sheet and "support our strategic growth opportunities in the future," Capital Bank wrote in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The filing follows the bank's quarterly earnings report this week, which showed Capital Bank had a $3 million profit in the three months that ended Sept. 30.
“Given our positive core earnings trend and recent market developments, we believe that now is a favorable time to raise money in the capital markets to further strengthen our already robust capital levels for general business as well as strategic purposes,” said CEO B. Grant Yarber, in a prepared statement.
He declined further comment on the proposed stock sale, citing SEC regulations.
Capital Bank intends to hold a shareholder meeting on Dec. 4 to approve the sale of additional stock. The timing also will depend on stock market conditions.