In our paper, A Crisis of Banks as Liquidity Providers, forthcoming in the Journal of Finance, we investigate whether the onset of the 2007-09 crisis was, in effect, a crisis of banks as liquidity providers, which may have led to reductions in credit and increased the fragility of the financial system. The starting point of our analysis is the widely accepted notion that banks have a natural advantage in providing liquidity to businesses through credit lines and other commitments established during normal times. By combining deposit taking and commitment lending, banks conserve on liquid asset buffers to meet both liquidity demands, provided deposit withdrawals and commitment drawdowns are not too highly correlated. Evidence from previous crises supports this view. In fact, banks experienced plenty of deposit inflows to meet the higher and synchronized drawdowns that occurred during episodes of market stress (Gatev and Strahan (2006)). The reason is that depositors sought a safe haven due to deposit insurance as well as due to the regular occurrence of crises outside the banking system (e.g., the fall of 1998 following the Russian default and LTCM hedge fund failure; the 2001 Enron accounting crisis).
Posts Tagged ‘Failed banks’
On September 29, 2014, the Financial Stability Board (the “FSB”) published a consultative document concerning cross-border recognition of resolution actions and the removal of impediments to the resolution of globally active, systemically important financial institutions (the “Consultative Document”). The Consultative Document encourages jurisdictions to include in their statutory frameworks seven elements that would enable prompt effect to be given to foreign resolution actions. In addition, due to a recognized gap between the various national legal resolution regimes that are currently in place and those recommended by the FSB, the Consultative Document sets forth two “contractual solutions”—that is, resolution-related arrangements to be implemented as a matter of contract among the private parties involved—to address two underlying substantive issues that the FSB considers critical for orderly cross-border resolution, namely:
In a comment letter and supporting paper to the FDIC on its single-point-of-entry (SPOE) resolution concept release, Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, argues that SPOE is conceptually sound and statutorily robust. However, progress to date on orderly liquidation has been so cautious as to cloud the credibility of assertions that the largest U.S. financial institutions, especially the biggest banks, are no longer too big to fail (“TBTF”). Crafting a new resolution regime is of course a complex undertaking that benefits from as much consensus as possible. However, if definitive action is not quickly taken on a policy construct for single-point-of-entry resolutions resolving high-level questions about its practicality and functionality under stress, markets will revert to TBTF expectations that renew market distortions, place undue competitive pressure on small firms, and stoke systemic risk. Even more dangerous, the FDIC may not be ready when systemic risk strikes again.
Questions addressed in detail in the paper and Ms. Petrou’s answers to them are summarized below:
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) litigation activity associated with failed financial institutions increased significantly in 2013, according to Characteristics of FDIC Lawsuits against Directors and Officers of Failed Financial Institutions—February 2014, a new report by Cornerstone Research. The FDIC filed 40 director and officer (D&O) lawsuits in 2013, compared with 26 in 2012, a 54 percent increase.
The surge in FDIC D&O lawsuits stems from the high number of financial institution failures in 2009 and 2010. Of the 140 financial institutions that failed in 2009, the directors and officers of 64 (or 46 percent) either have been the subject of an FDIC lawsuit or settled claims with the FDIC prior to the filing of a lawsuit. Of the 157 institutions that failed in 2010, 53 (or 34 percent) have either been the subject of a lawsuit or have settled with the FDIC.
On December 10, 2013, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the “FDIC”) proposed for public comment a notice (the “Notice”) describing its “Single Point of Entry” (“SPOE”) strategy for resolving systemically important financial institutions (“SIFIs”) in default or in danger of default under the orderly liquidation authority granted by Title II of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”).  The Notice follows the FDIC’s endorsement of the SPOE model in its joint paper issued with the Bank of England last year.
This is the fourth in a series of reports that analyzes the characteristics of professional liability lawsuits filed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) against directors and officers of failed financial institutions. Lawsuits may also be filed by the FDIC against other related parties, such as accounting firms, law firms, appraisal firms, or mortgage brokers, but we generally do not address such lawsuits here.
Overview of Litigation Activity
FDIC litigation against directors and officers (D&O) of failed financial institutions has increased markedly in the fourth quarter of 2012, after a lull during the second and third quarters. In October, November, and through December 7, the FDIC filed nine new lawsuits against directors and officers of failed institutions. If additional lawsuits are filed in the last few weeks of December, the number of filings in the fourth quarter will be higher than in the first quarter, when nine lawsuits were filed. Twenty-three lawsuits have been filed to date in 2012. If the recent pace of new filings persists for the balance of 2012, we expect 26 lawsuits will be filed by the end of the year. This reflects an increased level of filing activity compared with 16 in 2011 and two in 2010. In total, 41 lawsuits have been filed since 2010 against the directors and officers of 40 institutions (two separate lawsuits have been filed against various IndyMac directors and officers).
As widely reported in the press, seizures of banks and thrifts by regulatory authorities began to subside in 2011. Throughout the year, 92 institutions were seized compared with 157 in 2010 and 140 in 2009. In contrast, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation professional liability lawsuits targeting failed financial institutions began to increase in 2011. These are lawsuits in which the FDIC, as receiver for failed financial institutions, brings professional liability claims against directors and officers of those institutions and against other related parties, such as accounting firms, law firms, appraisal firms, or mortgage brokers.
From July 2, 2010, through January 27, 2012, the FDIC filed 21 lawsuits related to 20 failed institutions (two of the 21 lawsuits were associated with IndyMac Bank, F.S.B). Of the 21 lawsuits, two were filed in 2010, 16 in 2011, and three in January 2012. Aggregate damages claimed in the complaints totaled $1.98 billion.
The final report of the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking, chaired by Sir John Vickers, was published on 12 September 2011. Its recommendations include ring-fencing UK banks’ retail banking operations, higher capital requirements for UK retail banks, preferential status for insured deposits in a bank insolvency and measures to increase competition in the UK banking sector. The UK government issued its formal response on 19 December 2011 and has indicated it will implement most of the recommendations. This memorandum summarises the key recommendations and their likely impact, in light of the UK government’s response.
The Independent Commission on Banking (the “Vickers Commission”) was set up by the UK government to make recommendations for the reform of the UK banking sector, with a view to reducing systemic risk, mitigating moral hazard and reducing the likelihood and impact of firm failures. The Vickers Commission was also asked to consider competition in the UK banking sector.
For the second time since adopting its Final Statement of Policy for Failed Bank Acquisitions (the “Policy Statement”), the FDIC has issued “Questions and Answers” (the “Revised Q&As”) about the Policy Statement that appear to make it more difficult for private investors to avoid the onerous standards and requirements of the Policy Statement.  The FDIC will now presume that, if more than two-thirds of the total voting stock of an insured depository institution or its holding company that acquires a failed bank or thrift is held by private investors that each own 5% or less of the voting stock, the private investors are acting in concert as a single investor group. The private investors will be subject to the requirements of the Policy Statement unless they can satisfy the FDIC that the presumption has been rebutted. This position seems to confirm the FDIC’s preference for transactions in which an existing bank holding company owns at least two-thirds of the voting stock of the acquiring depository institution or its holding company or is itself the acquirer (with new private investors limited to no more than one-third of the existing bank holding company’s total equity).
(Editor’s Note: This post is based on a Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz client memorandum prepared by Edward D. Herlihy, Richard K. Kim, Lawrence S. Makow, Nicholas G. Demmo and Matthew M. Guest.)
The FDIC issued yesterday its final policy statement on private equity investments in failed banks. In early July, the FDIC issued a proposed policy statement containing stringent restrictions on these types of transactions. While the final policy statement relaxes some of these limitations, it continues to impose significantly higher requirements for private equity investors seeking to acquire failed banks than for strategic acquirors.
• Scope. Although the FDIC’s policy is generally viewed as focused on private equity investments, the policy is worded more broadly and applies to “private investors” – a term which is not defined in the policy. The earlier proposal applied to “private capital investors” and contained language, which has since been omitted, that made it clearer that the focus was private equity investors. In contrast, the policy statement does not apply to, and in fact encourages investment structures where private equity investors acquire a failed bank in conjunction with a bank or thrift holding company with a successful track record where the bank/thrift holding company has a strong majority interest in the resulting bank or thrift.
• Capital Support. Investors will be required to commit that an acquired depository institution be capitalized at a minimum 10% Tier 1 common equity ratio for at least three years following acquisition. The FDIC had previously proposed a minimum 15% Tier 1 leverage ratio – a higher number but a different measurement. The Tier 1 common equity ratio was a key measurement for the recent stress tests conducted by the Federal Reserve on the largest U.S. banks, but before then was not typically used as an explicit measure of regulatory capital. (In order to pass the stress test, banks were required to have sufficient common equity to achieve a Tier 1 common equity ratio of at least 4% at year-end 2010 under a hypothetical economic scenario.) Under the FDIC’s final rules, failure to meet the 10% Tier 1 common equity ratio would result in the institution being treated as “undercapitalized” for purposes of Prompt Corrective Action. This designation triggers strong regulatory measures, such as a requirement that the institution file a capital plan, restrict the payment of dividends and restrict asset growth.
• Source of Strength. Previously, the FDIC had proposed that investment vehicles would be expected to serve as a source of strength for their subsidiary depository institutions and would be expected to sell equity or engage in capital qualifying borrowings as necessary. The final policy does not contain this requirement.
• Cross Support of Affiliated Institutions. Investors and investor groups whose investments constitute 80% or more of the investments in more than one depository institution must pledge to the FDIC their proportionate interests in each such institution to pay for any losses to the Deposit Insurance Fund resulting from the failure of, or FDIC assistance provided to, the other affiliated institutions.
• Minimum Holding Period. Investors are prohibited from selling or otherwise transferring securities of the investors’ holding company or depository institution for a three-year period following the acquisition, unless the FDIC has approved the sale or transfer.
• Bar on Affiliate Transactions. All extensions of credit to investors, their investment funds, and any of their affiliates, by a depository institution acquired from receivership are prohibited.
• Bank Secrecy Law Jurisdictions. Investment structures involving entities domiciled in bank secrecy jurisdictions would not generally be eligible to own an interest in a depository institution acquired from receivership, unless they are subsidiaries of companies located in countries that exercise comprehensive consolidated supervision as recognized by the Federal Reserve and commit to provide extensive information to the FDIC.
• Ability of Existing Investors to Bid on a Failed Depository Institution. Investors that hold 10% or more of the equity of a depository institution that fails would not be eligible to bid on the institution once it is in receivership.
• Extensive Disclosure. Investors would be expected to submit to the FDIC detailed information about themselves, all entities in the proposed ownership chain, the size of the capital fund or funds, their diversification, the return profile, the marketing documents, the management team and the business model.
Private equity investors already face significant regulatory obstacles in bidding on failed banks. Since becoming a bank or thrift holding company and submitting to consolidated regulatory supervision is not practical for most private equity investors, investors need to satisfy the Federal Reserve (in the case of bank acquisitions) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (in the case of thrift acquisitions) that they will restrict themselves to largely passive roles. At the same time, they strive to ensure the placement and maintenance of competent management with the wherewithal to engineer a turnaround. There remain powerful arguments for the banking system to tap the investment resources available to private equity. Whether the FDIC’s final policy has changed enough to permit private equity to participate in acquiring failed banks remains to be seen.