The FDIC has loosened rules for taking over failed banks enough to convince billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to try buying some of them.
But he’s still not happy.
“We will now be able to be a bidder, whereas at the 15 percent capital level it would have been ridiculous,” Ross told Reuters.
“We’ll be in the game, but not as aggressively as we had been.”
The FDIC originally wanted to require private equity players to hold a bank’s tier one capital level at 15 percent, three times the usual 5 percent, and to keep the bank for three years before selling.
Private equity executives, particularly Ross, complained loudly about the new rules. He said he wouldn’t buy banks under those terms.
While he appreciates the change, Ross argued that a 7.5 percent capital requirement should be good enough, as that level is a whopping 50 percent higher than what a bank must hold to be deemed well capitalized.
In May, Ross’ firm W.L. Ross & Co joined with fellow private equity players Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group and Centerbridge Partners to purchase BankUnited Financial of Coral Gables, Fl. after the FDIC took it over.
Bank analyst Dick Bove told Moneynews.com that 150 to 200 banks will fail when all is said and done for the financial crisis.
It would seem Ross and other private equity titans will have plenty of opportunities to jump in the takeover game.
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