WASHINGTON - Bloomberg
First Priority Bank with six branches on Florida's Gulf Coast was closed by state regulators, becoming the eighth U.S. bank to collapse this year amid failed loans and writedowns linked to a slump in home prices.
First Priority, with $259 million in assets, was shut Friday by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. sold $227 million in deposits to SunTrust Banks of Atlanta, the agency said in a statement.
Six First Priority branches in Bradenton, Sarasota and Venice will open today as SunTrust offices, the FDIC said.
The pace of bank closings is accelerating as securities firms report more than $480 billion in writedowns and credit losses since 2007, when three banks were shuttered. Regulators in July closed IndyMac Bancorp, a California-based mortgage lender with $32 billion in assets, the third-largest bank seizure that will cost the U.S. deposit insurance fund $4 billion to $8 billion.
“The only thing sure other than death and taxes is that deposit insurance premiums will be going up as more banks fail,” said Gerard Cassidy, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in Portland, Maine. He expects 300 U.S. banks to fail in the next several years, mainly because of mounting losses from real estate-related loans.
SunTrust, the largest bank based in Georgia, will buy Bradenton-based First Priority's deposits held for 4,000 customers for no premium, while acquiring about $42 million in assets, the FDIC said. The U.S. deposit insurance fund will pay an estimated $72 million, the FDIC said. First Priority had about $13 million in uninsured deposits in 840 accounts, although the total may be revised, the FDIC said.
“We are pleased to be in a position to support the FDIC in its effort to resolve a problematic situation,” SunTrust Chief Executive Officer James Wells said in a statement. SunTrust will seek jobs for 50 employees of First Priority, the bank said.
The FDIC insures deposits of up to $100,000 per depositor per bank, and up to $250,000 for some retirement accounts at 8,494 institutions with $13.4 trillion in assets.
Homeowners who defaulted in June outnumbered those who caught up on payments as Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co. and other lenders sought to modify the loans, the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America reported July 31. The pace of foreclosures more than doubled in the second quarter from a year earlier, RealtyTrac Inc. said in July.
Lenders on the FDIC's “problem list” climbed to 90 in the first quarter from 76 in the fourth quarter of 2007, the agency said in May. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said 13 percent of listed banks may fail, while the remainder are nursed back to health or are sold off to healthier lenders.