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Robert Trigaux

Weak banks: Florida's (not so) magnificent seven

SheilaBairFDIC Wake up and good morning. How exactly are our Florida banks doing? There's a conspiracy atmosphere out there that many banks are, in fact, nearly dead in the water and the government is lowballing their estimates of weak institutions because the feds need time to absorb the big hit of failing so many financial institutions. We keep hearing that whacked by the home mortgage market, banks will get smacked anew by woes in the commercial real estate industry.

Folks like Alex Sanchez of the Florida Bankers Association insist most banks are strong and vibrant. So who can you believe these days?

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Wednesday that the number of banks on its list of “problem” institutions had grown to 305 in the first quarter, the most since 1994, and up from 252 at the end of 2008. From January through March, 21 small or medium-sized banks failed, and 15 more have gone in the second quarter -- including Florida's biggest, BankUnited of Coral Gables, which was shut down then immediately sold to private investor group. Here's more from the New York Times. And a remark from FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair (shown in photo):

"The first quarter results are telling us that the banking industry still faces tremendous challenges, and that going forward, asset quality remains a major concern."

Of course, the FDIC does not share the names on its problem bank list. But it's easy enough to pick out the more vulnerable financial institutions given third party analysis from Bauer Financial, SNL Financial and other firms. Allow us to offer some specifics.

Jedwilkinsonfirststatebank Nationwide, 82 banks and seven thrifts across the U.S. failed to hold the amount of money required by regulators, according to a full set of preliminary regulatory data for banks and savings and loans in the first quarter. The data was analyzed by SNL. (No, that's not Saturday Night Live.)

So let's cut to the chase. How many of those weaker 89 institutions are in Florida? Here's a full chart of all of these institutions across the country. And here's a list from that chart of seven -- let's call them the Not So Magnificent Seven -- based in Florida:

1. Riverside National Bank of Florida, Fort Pierce.
2. Florida Community Bank, Immokalee
3. Integrity Bank, Jupiter. Update? State regulators have cited the bank for operating without effective leadership, oversight, executive management supervision and direction by the bank's board of directions.
4. Republic Federal Bank NA, Miami 
5. Federal Trust Bank, Sanford. Update? Hartford Financial Services Group finally won approval for up to $3.4 billion from the government's financial bailout program, setting the stage for the insurance giant to complete its buyout of Federal Trust Bank.
6. First State Bank, Sarasota. Update? CEO Jed Wilkinson (shown in photo) said the bank's loan concentration was primarily commercial and the sector continues to erode. First State operates nine offices and five of those are in Pinellas County
7. Community NB of Sarasota County, Venice.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:25am]


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