Regulators shut banks in Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri; makes 72 US failures this year

By Marcy Gordon, AP
Friday, May 14, 2010

Regulators shut 4 banks; 72 have failed this year

WASHINGTON — Regulators on Friday shut down Midwest Bank and Trust Company in Elmwood Park, Ill., as well as three smaller banks in Georgia, Michigan and Missouri to bring the number of U.S. bank failures this year to 72.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Midwest Bank and Trust, which had about $2.4 billion in deposits and $3.2 billion in assets.

FirstMerit Bank, N.A., of Akron, Ohio, agreed to assume all the deposits of Midwest Bank and Trust and essentially all the assets.

Midwest Bank and Trust had 23 branches. FirstMerit is a division of FirstMerit Corp. According to its Web site, FirstMerit Bank has 186 offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

The FDIC and Firstmerit Bank agreed to share losses on about $2.3 billion of Midwest Bank and Trust assets. The move is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund about $216.4 million.

The other banks the FDIC took over were:

— New Liberty Bank, based in Plymouth, Mich. The bank had about $101.8 million in deposits and $109.1 million in assets. Bank of Ann Arbor in Ann Arbor, Mich., agreed to acquire the deposits and nearly all of its assets. New Liberty Bank had one branch.

— Southwest Community Bank, based in Springfield, Mo. It had deposits of about $102.5 million and $96.6 million in assets. Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff, Ark., will acquire the deposits of Southwest Community Bank and essentially all of its assets. Southwest Community Bank had one branch.

— Satilla Community Bank, based in Saint Marys, Ga. It had about $134 million in deposits and $135.7 million in assets. Ameris Bank, based in Moultrie, Ga., agreed to acquire the bank’s deposits and nearly all of its assets. Satilla Community Bank had one branch.

Satilla Community Bank was the eighth bank to fail this year in Georgia, one of the states where the meltdown in the real estate market brought an avalanche of soured mortgage loans. There were 25 bank failures in Georgia last year, more than in any other state. Also high on the list are California, Florida and Illinois.

With 72 closures so far this year, the pace of bank failures is more than double that of 2009, already a brisk year for shutdowns. By this time last year, regulators had closed 33 U.S. banks. The pace has accelerated as losses mount on loans made for commercial property and development.

The number of bank failures is expected to peak this year and to be slightly higher than the 140 that fell in 2009. That was the highest annual tally since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. The 2009 failures cost the insurance fund more than $30 billion. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force, and only three succumbed in 2007.

As losses have mounted on loans made for commercial property and development, the growing bank failures have sapped billions of dollars out of the deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, hitting a $20.9 billion deficit as of Dec. 31.

The number of banks on the FDIC’s confidential “problem” list jumped to 702 in the fourth quarter from 552 three months earlier, even as the industry squeezed out a small profit. Still, nearly one in every three banks reported a net loss for the latest quarter.

The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years.

The agency mandated last year that banks prepay about $45 billion in premiums, for 2010 through 2012, to replenish the insurance fund.

Depositors’ money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. Apart from the fund, the FDIC has about $66 billion in cash and securities available in reserve to cover losses at failed banks.

AP Business Writer Tim Paradis in New York contributed to this report.

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