(See Update on Later Regulatory Guidance.)
No topic has been discussed more around our offices today then whether an institution interested in receiving TARP Capital should go ahead and file an application now. For banks that fit squarely within the parameters of the proposed program (i.e., exchange-listed, publicly traded institutions), it’s best to apply now. For a smaller public, private, or S corp institution with “structural” difficulties with the program as currently designed, it may also be in the bank’s best interest to go ahead and submit an application now–especially if its regulator has encouraged it to do so. If it does, however, the bank needs to keep in mind that it will need to identify the participation difficulties now (see TARP Capital Issues) and supplement/amend the application later, with the extent of the required amendment being currently unknown.
If it applies now, even with several “structural” compliance issues noted in its application, the bank might get formal regulatory feedback more quickly, which would help with capital planning. In other words, “First come, first served” is not the same as “first come, first look.” For example, a bank may be able to meet its capital needs solely with TARP and prefer to do that, but if it receives definitive word that TARP is not available, it’ll need to move forward with alternative financing and plan accordingly.
In a best case scenario, an amendment to the application would just involve reviewing the investment documents when they’re available and certifying that the bank has no issues with them that haven’t been previously noted in its application. On the other hand, the entire program for private/S corp/smaller public companies could change significantly (for example, from equity to debt), and the bank could need to revise projections, review other potential issues presented (i.e., third party or regulatory restrictions on debt issuance) under the new program and submit a significant amendment to its application. If we knew that a new program would be unveiled this week, it would make sense to hold off on the application, but if it won’t be developed until a later date (or at all), it’s best to apply for the program in its current form and note any difficulties that the bank will experience in complying with its terms.