BankUnited goes bust and is replaced by BankUnited

I was heading to dinner with Marshall Auerback when the news of the BankUnited bust came into my inbox. I see this as fairly big new for what it represents. We are witnessing a sea change in how FDIC seizures are done here with private equity companies ready to get in on the profits. Let me share the FDIC press release with you and what I believe it means. I have highlighted the interesting bits.

BankUnited, a newly chartered federal savings bank, acquired the banking operations, including all of the nonbrokered deposits, of BankUnited, FSB, Coral Gables, Florida, in a transaction facilitated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). As a result of this transaction, BankUnited, FSB, offices and branches will be operated as BankUnited offices and branches.

BankUnited’s 86 offices will be open tomorrow during normal business hours. BankUnited, the successor institution, will be the largest independent bank in Florida, as was its predecessor (BankUnited, FSB). The management team is headed by John Kanas, a veteran of the banking industry and former head of North Fork Bank.

Deposits will be insured by the FDIC. Customers can continue to use BankUnited, FSB’s checks, ATM cards and debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

Bank United, FSB had assets of $12.80 billion and deposits of $8.6 billion as of May 2, 2009. The new BankUnited will assume $12.7 billion in assets and $8.3 billion in nonbrokered deposits. The FDIC and BankUnited entered into a loss-share transaction and will share in the losses on approximately $10.7 billion in assets covered under the agreement. The loss-sharing arrangement is projected to maximize returns on the covered assets by keeping them in the private sector. The agreement also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers as they will maintain a banking relationship. BankUnited will recapitalize the institution with $900 million in new capital.

BankUnited will not assume the approximately $348 million in brokered deposits. The FDIC will pay the brokers directly. Customers who placed money with brokers should contact them directly for more information about the status of their deposits.

Customers who have questions about today’s transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-451-1093. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT); on Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EDT; on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., EDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EDT. Interested parties can also visit the FDIC’s Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/bankunited.html.

The FDIC facilitated the transaction with John Kanas and a consortium of investors after BankUnited, FSB, was closed today by the Office of Thrift Supervision, which appointed the FDIC as receiver. The FDIC estimates that the cost to its Deposit Insurance Fund will be $4.9 billion. BankUnited’s acquisition of all the deposits and assets of BankUnited, FSB was the “least costly” resolution for the DIF compared to alternatives.

In addition to the management team led by John Kanas, ownership includes WL Ross & Co. LLC; Carlyle Investment Management L.L.C.; Blackstone Capital Partners V L.P.; Centerbridge Capital Partners, L.P. LeFrak Organization, Inc; The Wellcome Trust; Greenaap Investments Ltd.; and East Rock Endowment Fund.

Due to the interest of private equity firms in the purchase of depository institutions in receivership, the FDIC has been evaluating the appropriate terms for such investments. In the near future, the FDIC will provide generally applicable policy guidance on eligibility and other terms and conditions for such investments to guide potential investors.

BankUnited, FSB is the 34th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the third in Florida. The last bank to be closed in the state was Riverside Bank of the Gulf Coast, Cape Coral on February 13, 2009.

This is a completely new model of FDIC seizure.  In essence, we have seen the creation of a new bank, capitalized with $900 million of new money.  The assets have already ready been cleansed by the FDIC seizure, so you get good assets, a huge lending spread and an existing infrastructure and installed customer base.  What’s not to like about this.  If you had $900 million, you would invest in this scheme as well. I imagine the private equity guys will hold this investment for a few years and sell it into the market at an enormous gain.

Notice the names involved: Wilbur Ross, Carlyle, Blackstone.  You should also notice that next to last paragraph I highlighted:  this is only the beginning.  Private equity is going to be investing in new banks from FDIC seizures in a major way going forward.  The FDIC can now seize bankrupt institutions and offload them to investors who will “will share in the losses” and keep all the gains for themselves.  Obviously, we don’t have a copy of the loss-share agreement, but you can bet it is going to be pretty favourable to the investors.

In my view, this arrangement presents yet another reason why the banking sector is no longer in freefall and why you are going to see the economy stabilize in due course.

About 

Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.