Six regional banks have repaid funds borrowed from the US Treasury in the financial crisis, returning $2.7bn to taxpayers, reports the FT. The US government spent $389bn bailing out the financial system more than two years ago. Many of the largest US banks and insurers have since repaid the emergency funds, underlining the weaknesses of those still in the scheme and helping drive merger activity among regional banks. The latest crop includes four of the top 25 largest remaining Tarp recipients. The US Treasury said on Wednesday that Huntington Bancshares, First Horizon National, Wintrust Financial, Susquehanna Bancshares and Heritage Financial each bought back all the government’s outstanding preferred shares and paid out dividends. A sixth lender, Bank of Kentucky Financial, repurchased half of the Treasury’s preferred shares.
Shares in US regional banks tumbled on Monday, marking a third day of losses for the sector on concern that lenders may be forced to take further writedowns and dilute shareholders with new capital. The KBW BKX index for large banks dropped 2.95% to a more than 10-year low, as every stock in the 24-member index fell, led by sharp drops for Huntington Bancshares, Sovereign Bancorp and Comerica. Huntington fell by more than 13%, Sovereign Bancorp by more than 8%, and Comerica by nearly 7%.
Rising losses at regiona banks on residential construction and home equity loans underscore how the financial crisis is shifting from big banks’ writedowns on complex derivatives to consumer-related problems for smaller banks.
US regional bank Huntington Bancshares reached a deal to buy its Ohio neighbor, Sky Financial Group, for about $3.6bn in stock and cash. The transaction values each share of Sky at $30.22, a 25 per cent premium to its closing price on Dec. 19, Reuters said. Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns advised Huntington while Sandler O’Neill & Partners advised Sky.