Saturday, April 30, 2022

Peoples Bank of Alabama has new CEO

Peoples Bank of Alabama in Cullman has a new CEO. 

The $1.2 billion-asset bank tweeted on Friday that Robin Cummings had retired. 

Peoples said that Cummings, who has more than 38 years of services, remains on the board and will serve as a special adviser to its executive team. 

The bank’s website noted that Tim Williams is now CEO. He remains the bank’s president.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Provident in Mass. gains traction in BaaS business

Provident Bancorp in Amesbury, Mass., is the latest bank to report traction in its Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform.

The $1.8 billion-asset company said in a press release Friday that deposits with BaaS customers increased by 58% in the first quarter from a quarter earlier, to $94.3 million. 

Provident said its portfolio of digital asset loans decreased by 7% from a quarter earlier after a client paid down a $35 million credit line. The company originated $29.1 million in new digital asset loans during the first quarter. 

Other banks are making progress with BaaS. 

Coastal Financial in Everett, Wash., said total loans in its BaaS division increased by 49% in the first quarter from a quarter earlier, to roughly $515 million. BaaS-related deposits at the $2.8 billion-asset company rose by 26% to $900 million. 

Central Pacific Financial in Honolulu said its first BaaS client is on pace to launch its first product this summer. The $7.3 billion-asset company said Swell Financial should debut its integrated checking and line-of-credit account in a matter of months. 

Codorus Valley revamping mortgage, small biz lending

Codorus Valley Bancorp in York, Pa., which recently reached a truce with an activist investor, disclosed a series of moves to revitalize its mortgage and small business lending operations. 

The $2.4 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it created three jumbo mortgage products geared toward physicians, entrepreneurs, and private banking and private wealth clients. 

The company also launched an online mortgage application and hired a sales manager during the first quarter. The sales manager, hired in late March, is responsible for building brand awareness, hiring mortgage loan originators for Maryland and training current lenders. 

Codorus Valley said its online small business loan app will launch this quarter. It will include streamlined underwriting, where prospects can complete an online assessment to determine if they meet eligibility requirements. 

Eligible borrowers will be able to apply for a loan online as part of a 15-minute process. Maximum loan amounts will range from $100,000 to $500,000 depending on the product. 

Codorus Valley recently announced a series of corporate governance measures tied to the resolution of a longstanding dispute with Driver Management. The company will appoint three independent directors and review its compensation and risk policies, among other things. 

Meta Financial discloses total rebranding costs

Meta Financial in Sioux Falls, S.D., stands to profit from selling it name to a group affiliated with Facebook. 

The $6.9 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it expects rebranding expenses to total $15 million to $20 million – far less than the $60 million it will receive for changing its name. 

Meta, which plans to rebrand as Pathward Financial, incurred $2.8 million in expenses during the first quarter tied to changing its name. 

Meta received $50 million from the Facebook affiliate when it agreed to sell its name; the remaining money will be released after the phase-out is complete. The rebrand should be complete by the end of this year.

Blue Ridge sells payroll firm, gives fintech update

Blue Ridge Bankshares in Charlottesville, Va., has sold a payroll business.

The $2.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it sold a majority stake in MoneyWise Payroll Solutions in Charlottesville to the firm’s other investor during the first quarter. 

The company also said it has active partnerships with a number of fintechs, including Unit, Flexible Finance, Increase, Upgrade, Kashable, Jaris, Aeldra, Grow Credit, MentorWorks and Marlette. 

Blue Ridge said that fintech-related deposits increased by 74% in the first quarter from a quarter earlier, to $329 million. Loans associated with fintech fell by 10%, to $21.5 million. 

Interest and fee income tied to fintech partnerships totaled $1.3 million in the first quarter. Those relationships generated $48.4 million of assets under management during the quarter.

Primis in Va. agrees to buy mortgage company

Primis Financial in McLean, Va., has agreed to buy a mortgage lender.

The $2.4 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it expects to acquire SeaTrust Mortgage from Community First Bank in the second quarter. Primis said in a regulatory filing that it will pay $7 million in cash and repay about $13.8 million of SeaTrust's debt under certain warehouse lending facilities.

SeaTrust, formed in 2019, originates mortgages through eight offices in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. It originated $255 million of loans in 2021, and its volume is on pace to reach $300 million this year.

John Owens, SeaTrust’s president, and Margaret Kronmueller, its chief operating officer, will remain with the company, which will rebrand as Primis Mortgage. 

"We have been public with our desire for a wholly-owned mortgage solution at Primis and believe SeaTrust is the ideal platform for us,” Dennis Zember Jr., Primis’ president and CEO, said in the release. 

“The platform is run very efficiently, already profitable … and fully licensed with FNMA and FHA,” Zember added. “The entire company is ambitious and excited about this new partnership.” 

The deal is expected to have a “negligible impact” on Primis’ tangible book value. Primis said the business will have a neutral impact on earnings and return on assets for the rest of this year because it plans to invest in recruiting and other growth-oriented systems.

Quaint Oak discloses stake in equipment finance firm

Quaint Oak Bancorp in Southampton, Pa., disclosed that it bought a majority stake in an equipment finance company. 

The $568 million-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it bought a 51% stake in Oakmont Capital Holdings on Jan. 4. The company did not disclose the price it paid.

Oakmont has offices in West Chester, Pa., and Albany, Minn. Oakmont conducts business in all 50 states.

Quaint Oak said it has had a business relationship with Oakmont since 2015. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

South State in Florida eliminate NSF fees

South State in Winter Haven, Fla., is the latest regional bank to do away with nonsufficient funds fees. 

The $46 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it will modify its consumer overdraft program to eliminate NSF fees, as well as transfer fees to cover overdrafts.

South State said it will introduce a deposit product with no overdraft fees. 

The changes will be start to take place in the third quarter and should reduce diluted annual earnings by about 8 to 10 cents a share. 

Several other midsize banks, including Ameris Bancorp in Atlanta; Trustmark in Jackson, Miss.; and Hancock Whitney in Gulfport, Miss., are reducing or eliminating overdraft fees.

BayFirst retools mortgage, SBA operations

BayFirst Financial in St. Petersburg, Fla., has laid off more than 60 mortgage employees and added a national Small Business Administration platform. 

The $889 million-asset company said in a press release that it cut 65 jobs in the first quarter, including 62 within its residential mortgage division. BayFirst said the impact of the layoffs will not be realized until the second quarter and beyond. 

BayFirst also hired two large mortgage production teams earlier this month, which added five loan production offices. The effort includes the LoanBud platform, which is expected to offer mortgages and SBA loans to self-employed borrowers. 

The company launched a national SBA platform during the first quarter after hiring six lenders. The additions are expected to boost loan production and revenue in coming quarters. 

"As our business model adjusted over the past three quarters ... we began taking steps to right-size our residential lending team and overall expense structure," CEO Anthony Leo said in the release.

"We continued to invest in our future by recruiting SBA and residential production teams while continuing to advance our digital transformation," Leo added.

BayFirst said its first-quarter earnings were impacted by a reduction in mortgage loan volume. It earned $13,000 in the quarter, compared with $7.5 million a year earlier. 

Originations in the residential mortgage division fell by 53% from a year earlier, to $336 million. 

SBA loan originations were triple that of a year earlier, to $47.3 million (but they were down 20% from the fourth quarter).

Bank on Women scales up work with small banks

Bank on Women has formed a partnership with the Nasdaq to give exchange-listed community banks access to more board recruiting services.

The nonprofit, which looks to increase female representation in the banking industry, said on its LinkedIn page that the arrangement will give smaller banks access to its database of potential director candidates.

“We are committed to educating the community banking industry on the competitive advantages of gender diversity in the board room and C-suite,” Bank on Women said in the announcement. 

“We are honored that Nasdaq has chosen us as one of its partners in advancing boardroom diversity in the community banking industry,” the nonprofit added.

First Independence officially debuts Minneapolis branch

First Independence Bank, a black-owned bank in Detroit, has expanded into Minneapolis. 

The $412 million-asset bank officially debuted the office this week, according to The office quietly opened in late February. 

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. approved the expansion in January. 

First Independence has been supported – with capital, research and marketing services – by Bank of America, Bremer Bank, Huntington Bancshares, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo. 

First Independence customers have fee-free ATM and debit card use at Wells Fargo, Huntington, Fifth Third and or U.S. Bancorp branches. Wells Fargo donated the facility to a nonprofit that is leasing the location to First Independence. 

Damon Jenkins, the bank’s senior vice president for the Twin Cities regional market, once was Wells Fargo’s Minneapolis district manager.

Finward promotes exec to chief revenue officer

Finward Bancorp in Munster, Ind., has promoted an insider to become its chief revenue officer. 

The $2 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that Todd Scheub had also become president of its bank. Scheub, who joined Finward in 1996, previously served as the company’s chief banking officer. 

In the new role, Scheub will focus on strengthening existing relationships, building new business and community relationships. He will continue to provide oversight to the bank’s sales teams. 

Schueb “has actively built a high-performing sales team in all of our business units as chief banking officer,” CEO Benjamin Bochnowski said in the release. 

"As president, he will continue to form and enhance these relationships to expand revenue opportunities,” Bochnowski added. Schueb “has the full support of our board to bring customer engagement and our sales team to the next level, and I am excited to be able to work with him in this new role.” 

The promotion comes just days after Finward said it is evaluating its branch network, with the potential of closing 20% of its offices in coming months. The company recently expanded in Chicago with the purchase of Royal Financial.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

CoVantage CU to buy LincolnWay in Illinois

CoVantage Credit Union in Antigo, Wis., has agreed to buy LincolnWay Community Bank in New Lenox, Ill. 

The $2.7 billion-asset CoVantage said in a release that it expects to complete the purchase of the $277 million-asset LWCBancorp unit in the fourth quarter. The credit union did not disclose the price it will pay. 

LincolnWay has two branches, $243 million of deposits and $197 million of loans. 

Six credit unions have agreed to buy banks this year. 

Mercer Capital and Honigman advised CoVantage. Olsen Palmer and Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg advised LWCBancorp.

Univest enters new markets, upgrading digital platform

Univest Financial in Souderton, Pa., has entered two new markets and is improving its digital banking platform.

The $7.1 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that it entered western Pennsylvania and Maryland. Univest hired Chris Trombetta to serve as market president for the western Pennsylvania region and Matthew Cohen to serve as market president for the Maryland region. 

Trombetta and Cohen will work to identify site in their regions to serve as the company's regional headquarters.

"The success we have seen in our central [Pennsylvania] region demonstrates our ability to enter and grow in new markets,” Jeffrey Schweitzer, Univest’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

Univest has grown its central Pennsylvania region from 15 employees in 2016 to 65 employees and $1.2 billion of loans currently.

Univest said its digital platform will combine its core operating systems and allow the company to “seamlessly sell existing products and services … across an expanded footprint.” The company plans to launch the new platform by the end of the first quarter of 2023. 

The company incurred $779,000 of expenses in the first quarter tied to the new platform.

"This platform will enable us to achieve our long-term vision for a hub-and-spoke approach,” Schweitzer said.

Coastal in Wash. gains momentum in its BaaS business

Coastal Financial in Everett, Wash., is gaining momentum with its Banking-as-a-Service platform.

The $2.8 billion-asset company said total loans in its BaaS division increased by 49% in the first quarter from a quarter earlier, to roughly $515 million. Deposits rose by 26% to $900 million. 

Coastal gained seven new relationships over the 12-month period that ended on March 31. 

The business “continues to grow, providing additional fee and interest income,” Eric Sprink, Coastal’s president and CEO, said in a Wednesday press release. “We are pleased with how this segment of the company compliments the community bank services that our bank was built upon.” 

The BaaS platform is helping expand Coastal’s net interest margin, which widened by 50 basis points during the first quarter, to 4.55%. 

The gross yield on BaaS loans – which excludes the impact of BaaS loan expense – was 12.73%, compared to 3.6% for other loans made by the bank. The cost of deposits for the BaaS division was 0.06% compared to 0.11% for the rest of the bank. 

Coastal said about $690 million on BaaS-related noninterest deposits were reclassed to interest-bearing after the Federal Reserve raised rates in mid-March. 

Coastal said 20 of its relationships are active, one is in friends-and-family testing and five are in the onboarding and implementation phase. Two have signed letters of intent. 

"We are more selective in our new ... relationships and are focused on only selecting the relationships which are well-capitalized, are already established, and have experienced management teams,” the company said. 

Coastal recorded a $12.6 million loan-loss provision in the first quarter for its BaaS operations, increasing the allowance to $18.1 million on March 31. Agreements provide various protections for Coastal in the event of loan losses.

Lendistry joins rare company with SBLC license

B.S.D. Capital in Los Angeles has received a license to participate in the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) program. 

The company, which operates as Lendistry, said in a press release that it can now originate 7(a) loans of up to $5 million. Only 14 nondepository lenders have a small business lending company (SBLC) license, and Lendistry said it is the only black-led lender in the group. 

“There are millions of new small businesses entering the market following The Great Resignation, and a significant number of them are owned by women and minorities," Everett Sands, Lendistry’s CEO, said in the release. 

"These borrowers have always been central to Lendistry's lending,” Sands added. “The new SBLC license will be a game-changer in the communities we serve – providing even greater capital to even more small businesses across the country."

Finward in Indiana mulling branch closures

Finward Bancorp in Munster, Ind., is evaluating the size of its branch network.

The $2 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that it plans to close two locations and is looking at four others for potential closure. If those branches are closed, it would reduce the size of Finward’s network by 20%, to 24 locations. 

“The redeployment of occupancy expenses into building a digital-forward foundation to meet customer expectations will continue Finward’s digital-first future,” the company said in the release. 

“We will continue to tackle big technology investments and expenses to improve our digital user experience and operating environment throughout 2022,” Benjamin Bochnowski, Finward’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

“Despite the rapidly changing environment, we continue to deliver financial performance that allows for the ongoing investments in the digital transformation process," Bochnowski added.

Finward said it is making progress building onto Salesforce. The company also plans to deploy nCino to “fully leverage the digital integration between credit and lending while improving the customer experience and overall risk management of the loan portfolios.” 

The company said those technology initiatives cost about $259,000 in the first quarter.

New York Community, Flagstar extend merger agreement

New York Community Bancorp in Hicksville and Flagstar, Mich., have extended their merger agreement to Oct. 31. 

The $47 billion-asset New York Community and the $23 billion-asset Flagstar have been waiting on regulatory approval for their $2.6 billion merger. 

The deal was announced in April 2021 and had an original deadline of April 24, 2022.

The companies also amended their agreement to pursue a national bank charter and supervision by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. They said in a press release Tuesday that such a charter is “appropriate … especially taking into account Flagstar’s national mortgage banking business.” 

With the changes, the merger will need approval from the OCC and the Federal Reserve. Previously, the deal required approved from the Fed, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the New York State Department of Financial Services.

New York Community warned in October that it was unlikely to complete the acquisition in 2021 as originally planned. 

“Obviously, this is in the hands of our regulators,” Thomas Cangemi, New York Community’s chairman and CEO, said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “It's going through the application process, and we're anticipating closing as soon as we can in 2022.”

New York Community, which hasn't completed an acquisition since 2010, agreed to buy Astoria Financial in October 2015 but the deal was terminated the following year later after the companies failed to receive regulatory approval.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

First Bancshares in Miss. to buy Florida's Beach Bank

First Bancshares in Hattiesburg, Miss., has agreed to buy Beach Bancorp in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. 

The $6.1 billion-asset First said in a press release Tuesday that it will pay $117 million in stock for the $620 million-asset Beach. The deal, which is expected to close by the end of this year, priced Beach at 143% of its tangible book value. 

Beach has seven branches, $492 million of deposits and $456 million of loans. 

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Beach Bank and continuing to grow our presence in Florida,” Hoppy Cole, First’s president and CEO, said in the release. “In addition to strengthening our northwest Florida markets, Beach will add the Tampa metro and central Florida area to our footprint.”

Chip Reeves, Beach’s CEO, will join First’s executive leadership team with responsibilities for mortgage banking, specialty lending and the central Florida region. Henry Gonzalez, Beach’s Tampa market president, will join First as regional president for Tampa. 

Several other Beach executives will join First. 

The deal is expected to be 2.3% accretive to First’s 2023 earnings per share, and 4.7% accretive the next year. It should take less than two years for First to earn back less than 1% dilution to its tangible book value. 

First plans to cut half of Beach’s annual noninterest expense, or roughly $8.2 million. The company expects to incur $12.3 million of merger-related expenses. 

Hovde Group and Alston & Bird advised First. Piper Sandler and Smith Mackinnon advised Beach.

National Capital in DC hires outsider as president

National Capital Bank of Washington in Washington, D.C., has a new president. 

The $735 million-asset unit of National Capital Bancorp said in a press release that Jimmy Olevson would serve as "second in command" to CEO Randy Anderson. 

Olevson previously served as chief lending officer at MainStreet Bank. 

“We are thrilled to have Jimmy join NCB’s executive management team," Anderson said in the release.

"His business banking experience, strong leadership skills, client-centric approach and commitment to community banking and engagement represent a perfect fit with our core principle that 'customers come first' and our growth strategy,” Anderson added.

Western Alliance forms entertainment lending group

Western Alliance Bancorp. in Phoenix has formed an entertainment and media group.

The $50 billion-asset company said on its website that the group offers "a wide range of banking resources to TV, film and music producers across North America with the ability to lend in multiple currencies."

Melanie Krinsky and Charlene Paling, who joined the company last fall, have already originated more than $300 million of loans, with another $100 million in the pipeline, according to Variety magazine.

Krinsky, a senior director, previously worked at Bank Hapoalim, according to her LinkedIn profile. Paling, a senior vice president, was also at Bank Hapoalim. 

The group’s client base includes entertainment production, talent agencies, producers, prop houses, post-production teams, distribution companies and streaming channels.

Western Alliance’s products and services include working capital, acquisition financing, management buyouts and debt refinancing.

Orrstown in Pennsylvania highlights tech initiatives

Orrstown Financial in Shippensburg, Pa., plans to introduce a new treasury management application later this year. 

The effort is one of several technology enhancements the $2.9 billion-asset company highlighted in its slidedeck for its 2022 annual meeting. 

Orrstown, which hired a chief digital officer in 2021, said it also plans to focus on robotic process automation to gain efficiencies. The company will also refine Abrigo, a commercial loan origination system that it launched last year. 

The company said in its presentation that it expects “substantially all” of the roughly 2,800 customers gained from the Paycheck Protection Program remain active clients. That includes 193 new loans totaling $53.1 million and 123 new treasury management clients.

Orrstown made 6,500 PPP loans totaling $700 million during the program’s duration.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Blue Ridge Bankshares taps new bank president

Blue Ridge Bankshares in Charlottesville, Va., has a new bank president.

The $2.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that it had named Judy Gavant to the post. Gavant will remain the company’s chief financial officer. 

In the new position, she will lead commercial banking efforts and oversee bank operations, including policies and practices, in addition to a variety of strategic initiatives and other responsibilities. 

Gavant “is an exceptional, experienced and knowledgeable leader and is a key player in the company’s operational decision-making and strategy,” Brian Plum, Blue Ridge’s CEO, said in the release. Gavant “will be an even greater asset to Blue Ridge in this expanded role.” 

Gavant joined Blue Ridge after it bought Bay Banks of Virginia, where she was chief accounting officer, in January 2021.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Security Federal in SC set to receive ECIP capital

Security Federal in Aiken, S.C., said it is eligible to receive nearly $83 million of capital from the Treasury Department’s Emergency Capital Investment Program. 

The Treasury has $9 billion set aside to invest in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) through the program. The capital will help the institutions provide loans, grants and forbearance for small and minority businesses, as well as consumers in low-income and underserved communities. 

The $1.3 billion-asset Security Federal said in a press release Friday that it was informed on April 21 that it could receive $82.9 million of non-dilutive Tier 1 senior perpetual preferred capital. 

The company would be required to fulfill certain conditions established by the Treasury; it would also be subject to certain restrictions.

Prudential Bancorp juggled legal settlement, M&A talks

Prudential Bancorp in Philadelphia had to negotiate settlement of a legal issue as it finalized an agreement to be sold to Fulton Financial in Lancaster, Pa. 

The $26 billion-asset Fulton stipulated as part of its merger talks that the $1.1 billion-asset Prudential needed to resolve all outstanding issues associated with borrower litigation, according to a regulatory filing tied to the pending acquisition. 

The filing also revealed that, on several instances going back to 2017, Prudential tried to find a buyer or a merger-of-equals partner. 

Prudential’s initial effort to sell took place in April 2017, when its investment bank contacted 11 potential partners. Six signed nondisclosure agreements, with two submitting indications of interest. One of the bids was below Prudential’s expectations; the other was withdrawn.

Fulton, which spent years dealing with a series of regulatory issues, did not participate in the April 2017 process. 

Over the next two years, Prudential had merger discussions with three financial institutions, including a Pennsylvania bank that was interested in a merger-of-equals and two New Jersey institutions that were interested in a more traditional merger. 

The Pennsylvania bank ended discussions in September 2017 after expressing reservations about Prudential’s potential legal liability stemming from a lawsuit where a borrower alleged $27 million of damages. 

Prudential took a step back from merger talks when the pandemic took root in the United States. The company began revisiting the process in early 2021, citing historically low interest rates, the rising costs of regulation and compliance and an increased need to diversify and improve the digital experience, the filing said. 

Prudential President and CEO Dennis Pollack met with the president and CEO of an unnamed bank on May 4, 2021, followed by a meeting with Philip Wenger, Fulton’s chairman, president and CEO, three days later. Informal talks among these banks took place for several months; nondisclosure agreements were signed in October. 

Fulton sent an all-stock offer in November 2021 – with a potential cash component – that valued Prudential at $18 to $20 a share. The other bank offered $15.50 to $16.50 a share with a combination of cash and stock. 

Prudential’s board decided during a Nov. 17, 2021, meeting to negotiate with Fulton. They agreed to 60 days of exclusivity. 

Fulton’s concerns with the lender liability litigation surfaced in January. Wenger indicated that Fulton was willing to offer $19 a share if Prudential could completely resolve the liability claim. The merger consideration would be modified based on the financial terms of the settlement. 

By February, Prudential and the other litigant were close to negotiating a settlement where the bank would pay the other party $8.3 million in cash. Those efforts convinced Fulton to extend the exclusivity period for the merger talks.

Fulton still had reservations tied to a related legal matter involving the Prudential borrower’s largest shareholder. Fulton’s legal advisers indicated that all aspects of the litigation needed to be resolved. 

Prudential and the various parties to the shareholder litigation executed at settlement agreement in late February. As a result, Fulton proposed paying $18.25 a share in cash and stock. 

Prudential said the settlement will likely lead to a pretax charge of about $9.7 million, including the benefit of receiving about $1.9 million its bank’s insurance carrier. 

Directors of Prudential and Fulton approved the merger on March 1. It was announced the next day. The deal, Fulton’s first since 2006, is expected to close in the third quarter. 

“I have shared with investors Fulton’s desire to be more active in mergers and acquisitions of companies that are a good fit for us – strategically, culturally and geographically,” Wenger said in a release announcing the deal. 

Fulton expects the deal to be 3.5% accretive in 2023. It should take a little over a year for the company to earn back an estimated 1% dilution to its tangible book value. 

Fulton plans to cut about 45% of Prudential's annual noninterest expenses; it expects to incur $30.5 million of merger-related charges.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Colony closing branches, cutting jobs in efficiency push

Colony Bankcorp in Fitzgerald, Ga., announced an efficiency initiative designed to lower annual expenses by $3 million starting in the third quarter. 

The $2.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it plans to close two branches and eliminate 25 positions in its banking division. 

Colony said it is targeting a 60% efficiency ratio within three years. That ratio was 77% on March 31.

Amerant continues to reduce size of NYC loan book

Amerant Bancorp in Coral Gables, Fla., has sold $57.3 million of loans in New York City.

The $7.8 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that had $68.6 million of New York City loans available for sale on March 31. 

Amerant said its portfolio of New York City loans fell by 24% during the first quarter, to $373 million.

Fidelity in Pa. to buy new headquarters building

Fidelity Bank in Scranton, Pa., is moving its corporate headquarters. 

The $1.8 billion-asset bank said in a press release Thursday that it bought the Scranton Electric Building in downtown Scranton for the new office. 

Fidelity said the entire project is expected to cost $20 million, though it received about $4 million from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

The building “was originally home to the Board of Trade, the center of commerce for northeastern Pennsylvania,” Daniel Santaniello, Fidelity’s president and CEO, said in the release. 

“By purchasing and renovating this iconic landmark, Fidelity Bank will restore it to its rightful place as a center of commerce in the region, preserve an historic landmark, and contribute to the continued revitalization of downtown Scranton,” Santaniello added.

The new headquarters will bring more than 130 workers, job opportunities and revenue growth to downtown Scranton. 

The Scranton Electric Building was built in 1896 and was the city’s first skyscraper.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Triumph in Dallas designates 15 branches as held for sale

Triumph Bancorp in Dallas has designated 15 branches in rural markets, along with some factored receivables, for eventual sale. 

The $6.1 billion-asset company said in a press release that the branches are located in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Triumph said $159.2 million of loans and $367.3 million of deposits were also designated as held-for-sale on its balance sheet. 

About $80.8 million of non-transportation factored receivables, along with $10.4 million of related customer reserves, were given held-for-sale status. 

Triumph said the moves had no impact on its earnings beyond the reversal of the loan-loss allowance tied to the receivables and loans.

Central Pacific BaaS client Swell to debut this summer

Central Pacific Financial in Honolulu said its first Banking-as-a-Service client is on pace to launch its first product this summer. 

The $7.3 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that Swell Financial should debut its integrated checking and line-of-credit account in a matter of months. 

The fintech is working with Central Pacific and Elevate Credit. 

Central Pacific and Elevate also participated in a $10 million Series A capital raise for Swell. 

Central Pacific has said that its BaaS platform will help it expand into the U.S. mainland market.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Triumph in Dallas names new bank president

Triumph Bancorp in Dallas tapped a new president for its bank as part of a broader management restructuring. 

The $6 billion-asset company said in a press release Tuesday that Todd Ritterbusch had been named president of TBK Bank. Ritterbusch previously oversaw the bank’s retail and treasury management teams.

Ed Schreyer was named chief operating officer of Triumph Bancorp and TBK Bank. Gail Lehmann was tapped to serve as chief regulatory and governance officer of the company and the bank.

Lehmann previously served as the company’s secretary and the bank’s chief operating officer.

Melissa Forman was named president of the bank’s TriumphPay division, succeeding Schreyer. Forman has served as the division’s chief operating officer and chief strategy officer. 

Schreyer, Lehmann, Ritterbusch and Forman will report to CEO Aaron Graft. 

"Triumph's vision is to do something truly unique and valuable in financial services," Graft said in the release. 

"We have seen significant growth as an organization over the last few years and added executive leadership in key positions within our organization," Graft added. "Now is the time to strategically position our business and our leadership team for the future."

Minnesota is latest state to block credit union-bank deal

Another state has intervened to impede a credit union’s pending purchase of a bank. 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has rejected the sale of Lake Area Bank in Lindstrom, Minn., to Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wis. 

The agency determined that, in Minnesota, “a state-chartered bank is not authorized to transfer its assets and liabilities to a credit union for the purpose of consolidating or merging out of existence,” according to the Minnesota Bankers Association. 

Royal agreed to buy the $424 million-asset Lake Area in August. 

At least six states – either by law or agency intervention – have stood in way of credit union-bank mergers.

The decision comes a month after lawmakers in Mississippi approved a law that would severely limit credit unions' abilities to buy banks in that state. 

Credit unions looking to buy banks have also met roadblocks in Colorado, South Carolina, Tennessee and Nebraska.

Pathfinder in NY names interim president/CEO

Pathfinder Bancorp in Oswego, N.Y., has made an abrupt change in leadership. 

The $1.3 billion-asset company said in a press release Tuesday that James Dowd had been named interim president and CEO, succeeding Thomas Schneider, who resigned effectively immediately.

Schneider, who also stepped down from the board, was named the company’s director of capital markets and corporate strategy. Pathfinder said Schneider wanted “a less time-consuming role due to recent health issues and personal loss.” 

Dowd, who joined Pathfinder in 1994, is the company’s chief operating officer. 

Dowd’s “contributions to Pathfinder have demonstrated that his unique combination of skills, experience, passion for the industry and masterful ability to develop people have positioned him to lead the bank forward,” Chris Burritt, Pathfinder’s chairman, said in the release. 

Schneider joined the company in 1988; he has been president and CEO since 2000.

MainStreet gets closer to debuting BaaS product

MainStreet Bankshares in Fairfax, Va., is in the process of bringing on its first Banking-as-a-Service customer.

The $1.8 billion-asset company said in a press release that Avenu, its BaaS division, plans to go live with the initial beta customer in the fourth quarter. 

“Our focus is to help fintechs manage risk and meet compliance obligations as they accept and facilitate payments, and there is no cutting corners on this important work,” Todd Youngren, Avenu’s president, said in the release. “Over time, as we move through the beta stage, we anticipate that onboarding will be streamlined into a 60-day process.” 

As of March 31, Avenu had 10 fintechs lined up at various stages of progress, including four that have indicated they plan to proceed as soon as the beta process is complete. The prospects include entities that serve the domestic needs of foreign nationals and entities that serve the education and nonprofit industries.

Avenu’s clients include payment processors and money service businesses. 

The division brought in $61 million in noninterest bearing deposits and $253,000 in noninterest income in the first quarter.

Pinnacle brings equipment lease investment in-house

Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, Tenn., has fully acquired an commercial equipment leasing company.

The $39.4 billion-asset company said in a press release Tuesday that it bought the remaining equity of JB&B Capital in early March. Pinnacle paid an undisclosed cash amount for the 80% stake it did not previously own.

Pinnacle bought an initial 20% stake in the Knoxville, Tenn., company in 2017.

JB&B contributed 4 cents a share to Pinnacle’s first quarter earnings, including about $5.5 million of gains from remeasuring the previous investment, offset by a roughly $1 million loan-loss provision.

Pinnacle said that lease balances attributable to the acquisition totaled about $60.7 million on March 31.

Monday, April 18, 2022

National Bank in Denver to buy Utah bank

National Bank Holdings in Denver has agreed to buy Community Bancorp. in Provo, Utah.

The $7.3 billion-asset National Bank said in a press release Monday that it will pay $136 million of cash and stock for the $814 million-asset parent of Rock Canyon Bank. The deal, which is expected to close in the second half of this year, priced Rock Canyon at 180% of its tangible book value. 

National Bank would have $9.6 billion of assets following the acquisitions of Rock Canyon and Bank of Jackson Hole.

“Our focus on expanding [National Bank’s] presence in high-performing U.S. markets is again demonstrated by the announcement of our intent to acquire Rock Canyon Bank,” Tim Laney, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said in the release.

"Rock Canyon Bank’s highly successful SBA business strategy de-risks the balance sheet, produces strong fee income, and is scalable across our franchise,” Laney added. 

Rock Canyon has $494 million of loans and $737 million of deposits. 

National Bank said it expects the deal to be 25% accretive to its 2023 earnings per share. It should take a little more than two years for the company to earn back any dilution to its tangible book value. 

The company expects to incur $9 million of merger-related expenses. 

BofA Securities and Squire Patton Boggs (US) advised National Bank. Kirton McConkie advised Community Bancorp.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Piermont in NY creates CRE, fintech analyst programs

Piermont Bank in New York has created a two-year program to train employees to become commercial real estate or fintech lending analysts. 

The $364 million-asset bank, which opened in 2019, said in its announcement that it will sponsor formal credit training at an accredited institution. The program will include on-the-job training in reviewing and monitoring financial information, along with financial modeling and analysis. 

Piermont’s chief credit officer will train and mentor program participants. 

The bank will accept applications for those interested in joining the program. 

After completing the program, employees will get to join any area of the bank that interests them.

Piermont offers a Banking-as-a-Service product that includes Nerve, a neobank that focuses on musicians, among its customers.

United Cumberland in Ky. selects next CEO

United Cumberland Bank in Whitley City, Ky., has a new CEO.

The $379 million-asset bank said that Michael Laxton had also become its president. Laxton, who joined United Cumberland in 2005, has overseen IT projects and managed the bank’s debit card and bookkeeping departments, according to the Commonwealth Journal

Laxton joined the bank’s board in 2020. 

"It is always a pleasure to identify talented individuals within the bank to fill important positions," David Winchester, United Cumberland’s chairman, told the publication. “Our customers and communities will be well-served by his leadership and hands-on involvement in the operation of our bank."

First Republic's Herbert joins Forge Global board

Jim Herbert has made his first big decision since announcing plans to retire as CEO of First Republic Bank in San Francisco. 

Herbert has joined the board of Forge Global Holdings, a San Francisco company that provides trading technology and operating expertise. He also joined the company’s compensation committee. 

Herbert “is a financial services visionary whose deep commitment to client service has led to extraordinary growth at First Republic … over the past 36 years,” Kelly Rodriques, Forge’s CEO, said in a press release. “His leadership, operating and regulatory experience are incredibly valuable to our team, and we look forward to his insight and contributions.” 

Herbert remains First Republic’s chairman. 

First Republic said in March that Mike Roffler, who served as interim co-CEO while Herbert was on medical leave, had the job permanently.

First Volunteer in Tenn. rebranding as Builtwell Bank

First Volunteer Bank in Chattanooga, Tenn., plans to rebrand as Builtwell Bank. 

The $1.4 billion-asset unit of First Volunteer Corp. will change its name later this year, according to 

First Volunteer expanding in Georgia with last year's acquisition of FBD Holdings, the parent of First Bank. 

“With this expansion further into Georgia, we realized the need to develop a new name for the bank that reflects our commitment to the communities we serve in both states,” Patti Steele, First Volunteer’s chairman and CEO, told the publication. 

"We’re excited about transitioning to our new brand, but in the end we’re still a local community bank that’s here to reinvest in our communities, and make banking better and easier for our customers,” Steele added.

Main Street Financial in W.Va. selects next chairman

Main Street Financial Services in Wheeling, W.Va., has a new chairman.

The $607 million-asset company announced at its annual meeting on Thursday that Nick Sparachane will succeed Bruce Wilson on June 20, according to the Weirton Daily Times. 

Wilson, who has been chairman for 16 years, will remain on the company’s board.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Bank of Princeton plans to form BHC

Bank of Princeton in New Jersey is looking to form a holding company. 

The $1.7 billion-asset bank is asking shareholders to approve forming Princeton Bancorp at the 2022 annual meeting set for April 29. 

Bank of Princeton said in a regulatory filing that the reorganization would give it “a greater ability” to raise Tier 1 capital, which would help it “to continue to grow at the rate we desire, including through acquisitions, and to better protect ourselves from losses in the future.” 

The bank said having a holding company would give it more flexibility to pursue acquisitions “because it permits the ownership of separate subsidiaries with independent management.” Certain state and federal regulations also limit the types of businesses the bank can pursue without a holding company. 

If approved, Bank of Princeton plans to reorganize in the third quarter.

Bank of Princeton agreed in May 2016 to sell to Investors Bancorp, but the proposed deal was terminated in early 2017 after Investors entered into an informal agreement with regulators tied to its Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering compliance.

Investors recently was sold to Citizens Financial Group.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Pilot program to help MDIs tackle financial wellness

Thirteen minority depository institutions will soon pilot a program designed to boost the financial wellness of minority communities. 

The pilot – led by the National Bankers Community Alliance, the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition and iGrad – will help the MDIs create a customized financial wellness website, issue calls to action and reward consumers for improved financial behaviors. 

The MDIs, which were not identified, will be able to provide in-person counseling, online programming and support services. 

The effort is being supported by a $500,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation. 

“As banking and financial services evolve, customers have a greater need for innovation and for information to help them manage their finances,” Nicole Elam, president and CEO of the National Bankers Association and executive director of the National Bankers Community Alliance, said in a Thursday press release. 

MDIs “are critically important in communities of color and can directly support the financial health of communities where typically there are gaps in banking services,” Bonnie Wallace, Wells Fargo’s head of financial health philanthropy, said in the release. 

"We’re excited to help NBA member banks advance their digital transformation and expand access to digital financial wellness tools that can help people and families reduce debt, save for retirement, or reach other financial goals,” Wallace added.

A look at Origin's two-year wait for BT Holdings

Origin Bancorp in Ruston, La., first approached BT Holdings in Quitman, Texas, about an acquisition two years before they agreed to a deal. 

The $7.9 billion-asset Origin agreed to buy the $2 billion-asset BT Holdings in February for $313.5 million in stock. 

Drake Mills, president and CEO of the $7.9 billion-asset Origin, originally reached out to Bob Dyer, who was BT’s chairman and CEO, in early 2019 to seek a meeting, according to a regulatory filing tied to the pending deal. Dyer, who was diagnosed with cancer, was unable to make a meeting happen – he passed away in October 2020. 

Mills waited three months before calling Jay Dyer, Bob Dyer’s son and BT Holdings’ executive vice president, to revisit negotiations. 

Mills met with Dyer and Lori Sirman, BT Holdings’ vice chairman and president, in Dallas on Feb. 8, 2021. It was the first of several in-person meetings that took place in Dallas and Louisiana over the next seven months. 

The companies signed a mutual confidentiality agreement in August 2021. 

Topics covered during September included general structure and valuation, similarities in cultures, customer service philosophies and potential synergies. 

Origin delivered its first draft of a letter of intent on Nov. 4, 2021. The letter proposed an all-stock deal that valued BT Holdings at $303.6 million, based on Origin’s stock price at the time. 

BT Holdings’ board had a “fulsome discussion” during a Nov. 15 special meeting that looked at the company’s strategic plan and “the potential benefits and risks” of continuing merger negotiations.

Origin revised the letter on Nov. 24, 2021, increasing the consideration to $314.9 million. The draft included a protection mechanism for Origin that would let it terminate the deal if BT Holdings’ tangible common equity at closing, subject to adjustment, fell below $204 million.

BT Holdings would have been allowed to walk away based on a “specified decline” in Origin’s stock price. Origin also proposed adding two outside directors to its board. 

Origin revised its offer again on Dec. 3 after negotiating with BT Holdings. It eliminated the termination right tied to BT Holdings’ TCE, replacing it with a consideration adjustment if the seller’s adjusted tangible equity fell below $201 million at closing (later lowered to $198 million). 

The new letter proposed adding Sirman and Dyer to the Origin board. The executives are also expected to become Origin employees. 

The companies executed the letter of intent on Dec. 21, 2021. The draft of the merger agreement was circulated on Jan. 24.

BT Holdings’ board approved the merger on Feb. 21. Origin’s board unanimously approved the deal two days later; it was announced on Feb. 24. 

The acquisition, which is expected to close in the second half of this year, priced BT Holdings at 151% of its tangible book value. 

The deal should be 12.7% accretive to Origin’s 2023 earnings per share. It should take a little more than two years for Origin to earn back an expected 3.6% dilution to its tangible book value.

Origin plans to cut about 30% of BT Holdings’ annual noninterest expenses. It expects to incur $18 million of merger-related expenses.

“I am excited to bring our strong teams together and expand our Texas franchise,” Mills said in the press release announcing the acquisition. 

"These two companies have been passionately committed to community banking for more than 100 years and are deeply rooted in the communities we serve,” he added. “I firmly believe that our cultural alignment and shared values provide an ideal combination to drive growth and long-term value for our employees, customers, communities and shareholders.”

U.S. Bancorp touts new initiatives in earnings release

U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis highlighted partnerships with Microsoft, Morningstar and a fintech firm as part of its quarterly results. 

The $587 billion-asset company said in its earnings press release that it selected Microsoft Azure as its primary cloud provider. U.S. Bancorp said cloud computing will handle the majority of its infrastructure and application portfolio with cloud computing, allowing it rapidly access and analyze data. 

The company also touted its collaboration with Driveway on real-time payments to car sellers. People who sell a car on will have the payment deposited instantly into their bank account after the sale is complete. 

Finally, U.S. Bancorp noted that it will work with Sustainalytics, a Morningstar company, to offer environmental, social and governance (ESG) data solutions to U.S. Bank Global Fund Services clients where independent ESG analytics and reporting services are required.

Overall, the company's earnings fell 32% from a year earlier, to $1.6 billion.

U.S. Bancorp recorded a $112 million loan-loss provision, compared to a $827 million reserve release a year earlier. Noninterest expense rose 4%, to $3.5 billion.

Group forms association for BaaS providers

A group in Austin, Texas, has formed an association to advocate for financial institutions that offer Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) products. 

Bankers Helping Bankers, a bankers-only platform, said in a press release that it had formed the BHB Banking-as-a-Service Association. 

The association plans to coordinate legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts for BaaS providers and promote best practices and standards for delivering services to nonbanks. 

The plan is to encourage bankers to share experiences, insights, successes and failures and to connect federally insured financial institutions with fintech partners. 

"These elite bankers lead in profitability and innovation,” Tanner Mayo, Bankers Helping Bankers’ co-founder, said in the release. “It is essential that banks getting into this space do so in a safe, sound, and regulatory-compliant way.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Middlefield, Peoples Financial face proxy challenges

A pair of community banks is facing proxy challenges from activist investors. 

Middlefield Banc Corp. in Beachwood, Ohio, is dealing with pressure from Ancora Advisors to find a buyer. 

The investor included a proposal for consideration at the $1.3 billion-asset Middlefield’s annual meeting that would recommend that the board “take the necessary steps to achieve a sale, merger, or other disposition of the company on terms that will maximize shareholder value as expeditiously as possible.” 

Ancora, which owns about 7.6% of Middlefield’s stock, said the company has been underperforming peers, adding that it believes “there are several interested buyers … since the bank is a scarce asset with the second-largest deposit market share in Geauga County.” 

Middlefield, which in February appointed a new president and CEO, told shareholders in a regulatory filing that the proposal, if enacted, could “potentially weaken” its business. The company disputed the peer group that Ancora used, and asserted that its depressed stock price was a result of it being removed from the Russell 3000 Index. 

“The company has taken favorable governance actions by addressing CEO succession and strengthening the board with capital markets expertise,” the board said in the regulatory filing. 

Peoples Financial in Biloxi, Miss., is navigating a proxy challenge from Stilwell Group in New York.

Stilwell, which owns about 9.9% of the $819 million-asset Peoples stock, is looking to have Rodney Blackwell added to the company’s board. 

“We believe the issuer should explore all possibilities to maximize shareholder value,” the investor said in a regulatory filing. “We do not believe the value of the Issuer's assets is adequately reflected in the current market price of the issuer's common stock.” 

Peoples’ board is recommending that shareholders vote against Blackwell. 

“We sympathize with you, our shareholders, and understand that this unnecessary proxy contest … has caused frustration through the numerous unwanted mailings and different forms of green proxy cards you have received,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

Business First to raise $47M through stock offering

Business First Bancshares in Baton Rouge, La., plans to raise about $46.8 million from selling common stock.  The $5.5 billion-asset company...