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Louisiana NBC Bank Failure

Louisiana’s First NBC Bank became the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis after federal and state regulators announced last week that the bank had officially closed and would be reopening as a part of Whitney Bank.

The failure is the fourth this year and the cleanup costs are estimated to be around $1 billion. Regulators handed the bank over to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC). after seizing it.

Hancock Holding Co based in stepped in and took over the bank buying up deposits worth $1.6 billion and assets estimated to be around $1 billion. Out of this, $600 million was said to be in cash. The FDIC was able to sell only a part of the bank to Hancock, which was the sole bidder according to FDIC spokesman David Barr.

First NBC customers will be able to access all accounts as usual based on a statement from Whitney Bank. Whitney is assuming all transaction accounts – savings, checking and money market accounts. The acquisition would make Whitney the top bank in metro New Orleans by deposits. The FDIC will be taking over certificates of deposit (CDs) and also individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Investors can expect to receive checks directly from FDIC this week onwards.

John Hairston, president and CEO of Whitney parent Hancock Holding Co has assured customers that deposits and interest accrued would not be affected by the transition. Ashton Ryan Jr, a banker from New Orleans decided to open the bank back in 2006 and his goal was to help Louisiana rebuild after the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. The bank became a highly popular source of credit but ran into trouble after it became heavily dependent on low-income projects that involved state and federal tax credit.

Federal rules changed on how banks could classify tax credits when assessing their assets, and this highlighted problems at the bank. Regulators began questioning in 2016 how First NBC was calculating the value of its assets which forced the bank to reassess asset values and write it down. The bank was also asked to raise more capital to boost its stability but couldn’t as a result of having to set aside $86 million for loan losses.

In November, the FDIC put First NBC under a consent order after the bank failed to meet deadlines for filing financial reports. Although the bank received a much-needed cash infusion after Whitney purchased nine First NBC branches along with loans worth $1.3 billion in December, it was unable to recover sufficiently, leading to FDIC action.

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