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COVID-19 and Mortgage Lenders and Services, MAC Clauses in Loan Agreements, Fair Credit Reporting Act Changes, and Employee Benefit Considerations

March 28, 2020

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The devastating impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) needs no introduction.  Community banks across the country are feeling the impact, both as small business themselves, and as providers of credit to so many other small businesses. The impacts of COVID-19 and the legislative responses to COVID-19 are increasingly broad, and affecting almost every aspect of American life. The lawyers of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) are working to address those issues for companies of all sizes and industries, throughout the word.

As we collectively respond to the developing COVID-19 outbreak, the well-being of our clients and colleagues remains our paramount concern. We continue to closely monitor governmental, CDC, and WHO guidelines on travel, exposure and preventative measures and our firm has instituted a number of internal measures to ensure that BCLP is able to continue to consistently serve our clients’ business needs.  You can read more about the steps we have taken here.

In addition, BCLP has consolidated all of its client alerts regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) as one page of resources. On that page, you can also limit by topic area, jurisdiction and areas of practice.

In this post, which is the first of many, we have highlighted some of the client alerts that we believe may be of specific importance to our community bank clients.

COVID-19: The New Frontier for Mortgage Lenders and Servicers in the U.S.

Most mortgage lenders and servicers already have business continuity plans in place, but those plans may not fully address the dynamics of the COVID-19 crisis.  Typical contingency plans ensure operational effectiveness following events like natural disasters, cyberattacks, and the like.  They do not, in many respects, account for widespread quarantines, extended business closures, and mass job borrower job loss and income disruption, among other things.  Beyond business continuity, lenders and servicers must grapple with evolving regulatory requirements, the risk of downstream regulatory and litigation scrutiny for actions taken today, and management of reputational risk.  This alert details the key regulatory developments, issues and risk mitigation strategies lenders and servicers should consider.

Enforcement of MAC Clauses in Loan Agreements in Light Of COVID-19 and Related Business Disruption

Material adverse change clauses in loan agreements present important issues that borrowers and lenders alike need to consider carefully in this environment.  There are very few published decisions on enforcement of MAC clauses in the lending context and no published cases addressing a pandemic-type situation like the one we are currently facing. A lender that invokes a MAC clause may seek to declare a default under the loan as a prelude to an enforcement action or to avoid funding, or further funding, its loan to the borrower.  Lenders are often confronted with extreme time pressure when a funding request is involved, which makes these situations even more challenging. This alert addresses whether COVID-19 and the resulting business disruption may be reasonably considered a MAC in a typical commercial loan. 

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Bank Regulatory Provisions in the CARES Act

March 25, 2020

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On March 25, 2020, senators released an updated draft of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (a.k.a the “CARES Act”) (the acronym is so much better than EGRRCPA!) to provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses.  Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s initial review of the overall Act is available here.

The current draft contains a number of bank regulatory provisions of potential interest to financial institutions of all sizes.

Section 4008 – Debt Guaranty Authority.  Authorizes FDIC to re-implement transaction account guarantee program, subject to cap on amounts insured.  In the 2008 financial crisis, the FDIC provided unlimited insurance for amounts held in noninterest-bearing transaction accounts (i.e. checking accounts that don’t pay interest).  Dodd-Frank prohibited the FDIC from every doing that again.  The CARES Act authorizes the FDIC to provide the program again through December 31, 2020.  Current draft of legislation limits coverage to “a maximum amount” without specifying the amount.  Effectiveness will require FDIC action.  Current draft of legislation also allows the NCUA to provide comparable insurance for credit unions, and permits the NCUA to provide insurance on an unlimited amount in such accounts.  Since its formation, no depositor has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds.

Section 4014 – Optional Temporary Relief from Current Expected Credit Losses.  No financial institution or holding company shall be required to comply with FASB’s current expected credit loss methodology (i.e. CECL) (which otherwise is scheduled to become effective for the largest public bank holding companies for Q1 2020).  Effective from adoption of the Act and ending on the earlier of December 31, 2020 or the termination date of the national emergency. 

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Banking Regulators Clarify TDR Relief for COVID-19 Modifications

March 22, 2020

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On March 18, 2020, the FDIC issued guidance in its Frequently Asked Questions for Financial Institutions Affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 indicating the potential for relief from the Troubled Debt Restructuring (TDR) reporting requirements.

Financial institutions should determine whether loans with payment accommodations made to borrowers affected by COVID-19 should separately be reported as TDRs in separate memoranda items for such loans in regulatory reports. A TDR is a loan restructuring in which an institution, for economic or legal reasons related to a borrower’s financial difficulties, grants a concession to the borrower that it would not otherwise consider. However, a loan deferred, extended, or renewed at a stated interest rate equal to the current interest rate for new debt with similar risk is not reported as a TDR.

FDIC FAQ published March 18, 2020

While appreciated, that guidance left a lot of discretion to the regulators to second guess the interpretations by financial institutions and essentially just repeated existing guidance. On Sunday, March 22, 2020, the federal banking regulators collectively issued an Interagency Statement on Loan Modifications and Reporting for Financial Institutions Working with Customers Affected by the Coronavirus. This new Interagency Statement fortunately goes further.

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In Memory of Walt: Beware the False Assumptions!

March 4, 2020

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One year ago today, on March 4, 2019, we lost our patriarch, colleague and friend, Walt Moeling.  I don’t know that any client situation, much less a working day, goes by without each of us thinking about how Walt would have handled it.

On one hand, that makes the writing of this blog post one of the more difficult assignments.  On the other hand, I have the good fortune of knowing exactly what Walt thinks about this post (albeit in a wholly different context).  I wrote the first draft of this post almost five years ago.  After sharing with Walt, he commented that he liked the concept, but didn’t want it to be “all about him.”  The post then got added to my ever-growing “blog post ideas” folder, potentially never to be seen again.

But this post is supposed to be all about Walt, so I’m happy to publish it now.

One advantage of Bryan Cave Leighton Pasiner’s banking practice is our depth and camaraderie.  Based on what Walt Moeling and Kathryn Knudson have built over the last 40+ years, we have a breadth of experience that few can match.

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11+ Years of TARP

November 6, 2019

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11+ Years of TARP

November 6, 2019

Authored by: Robert Klingler

As I have repeatedly written on this site, without regard to other benefits associated with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (such as avoiding a further collapse of the global financial system), the TARP program, and particularly the Capital Purchase Program, was profitable for the U.S. Taxpayer. As a banking lawyer and son and grandson of community bank presidents, I’ll concede that I’m biased. But the numbers speak for themselves.

Even ProPublica acknowledges that TARP was profitable.

Overall, the TARP remains in the black, though just barely.

What does ProPublica means by “barely” profitable? Apparently, “a narrow profit of about $1 billion.”

I hate it when I only have a billion dollars in profit. That’s $1,000,000,000.00 to put it in context.

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2019 Banking Landscape – Charter Types

October 1, 2019

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Whenever discussing bank charter types, I’m reminded of a comparison made by Walt Moeling. Walt would always say that the bank charter choice is like choosing between a Ford and a Chevy truck. There are strong, die-hard advocates for the superiority of one over the other. But either one is functionally adequate, and will enable you to get from location a to b. Of course, neither is going to be confused for a Lamborghini or a Maserati either.

Looking at the breakdown of charters as of the beginning of 2019, while the majority of all U.S. banks are state, non-member banks (i.e. with primary federal supervision by the FDIC), each charter choice appears to continue to have its advocates.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the primary federal prudential regulator for national banks, has earned a reputation as the regulator of the largest banks, but the underlying data doesn’t necessarily support that viewpoint. While all of the four largest U.S. banks are national banks, in all asset classifications, there remains a variety of bank charter, showing that no one charter type is necessarily better based purely on asset size.

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The So-Called Rise of Credit Union Buyers

September 24, 2019

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The increasing number of banks selling to a credit union has been a hot topic at investor conferences, within the trade press, amongst clients, at trade associations events, and in conversations with investment bankers. To that end, I’ll be on the main stage at BankDirector’s 2020 Acquire or Be Acquired Conference discussing the new players in the bank M&A game.

And the numbers would appear to support that conversation…

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2019 U.S. Bank Landscape

September 23, 2019

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2019 U.S. Bank Landscape

September 23, 2019

Authored by: Robert Klingler

The landscape of the banking industry in the United States continues to be highly concentrated when looking at asset sizes, but with the vast majority of the depository institutions continuing to be smaller institutions. As of June 30, 2019, approximately 84% of the assets held by depository institutions are held by less than 3% of U.S. banks.

85% of the banks in the United States, or 4,511 institutions, have less than $1 billion in total assets. 73% (or 3,855 institutions) have less than $500 million in total assets. 53% (or 2,799 institutions) have less than $250 million in total assets. 23% (or 1,230 institutions) have less than $100 million in total assets.

The concepts reflected above aren’t new. We showed the same thing in our Landscapes as of the end of 2016 and the end of 2017. In both of those reports, we attempted to look at the historical trends of consolidation (and that trend certainly continues). But this year, we’re taking a different tack and trying to dig deeper into the FDIC data. All of the data presented is based on the underlying data in the FDIC’s Statistics on Depository Institutions as of June 30, 2019.

As with all statistical reports, I’m well aware that all statistics can be massaged, with relatively innocuous adjustments, to tell different stories. Certainly, extremes can disrupt averages and otherwise minimize the value of the outcomes (or suggest that median or modal outcomes are more important than mean outcomes). Even if you never took a statistics class or have blocked all statistics concepts from your mind, I encourage you to check out Planet Money’s Modal American episode. The modal U.S. bank would have total assets of between $100 million and $250 million, would be taxed as a C-corporation, have a holding company and be a state-chartered, non-member bank. By comparison, the “average” bank would be $3.4 billion and the media bank would be the $228 million Bank of the Lowcountry, in Walterboro, South Carolina.

I am also reminded that no bank desires to be “average,” nor are investors generally looking for an “average” return. That said, I believe there is value in understanding what average is, and recognizing that expectations should be different for different institutions.

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Who Will be the Next Community Bank Acquirer of Choice in Georgia?

September 18, 2019

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On September 13, 2019, the FDIC released the latest results of its annual summary of deposits survey data. The deposit market share data always presents an interesting view of the banking market, particularly when viewed over time.

As of June 30, 2019, roughly $256 billion in deposits were held in Georgia, up from $250 billion in 2017 and $197 billion in 2014. While total deposits are up, the number of banks and branches have each continued to decline. Five years ago, there were 259 banks with branches in Georgia; today (assuming completion of announced mergers), there are 208 banks with branches in Georgia. While the number of branches have also declined, the rate of decline is not as significant: 2,526 branches in 2014 to 2,254 branches today.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Deposits per branch have been steadily on the rise for years. In 2005, Georgia averaged $57 million per branch. By 2014, that number has risen to $78 million per branch, and today the figure is $114 million per branch.

Adjusting for announced mergers, the “big three” in Georgia (Truist, Bank of America and Wells Fargo) now hold roughly 55% of the deposits in Georgia. This is up from 53% two years ago and 51% five years ago, but down slightly if one were to include BB&T in the historical totals.

As of June 30, 2019, fourteen institutions have at least 1% of the Georgia deposit market share, one more than five years ago. Six additional banks in Georgia now have at least $1 billion in Georgia deposits, from 18 in 2014 to 24 in 2019 (and that’s excluding BB&T in 2019 based on its pending merger with SunTrust).

But as suggested by the headline to this post, I think the really interesting data is in the relative sizes of the banks with at least 10% of their respective total deposit bases in Georgia (i.e. banks in which Georgia represents a significant portion of their deposit base, whether they call Georgia home or not). We have not only seen a material decline in the number of these institutions, but the asset size distribution has radically changed over just the last two years.

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