Federal regulators probe financial services company’s $2.9 billion takeover of Memphis commercial bank
Commercial banks in Memphis and surrounding states are asking for permission to take over banks that were merged into one entity under the merger plan that led to the bankruptcy of UBS Group AG in November.
Memphis Commercial Bank, which had about $2 billion in assets, was one of five entities merged into the commercial bank group last year.
The Memphis Commercial Banking Corporation has applied for the ability to merge with another commercial bank and a mortgage lender to take control of the Memphis Commercial bank, which was part of the bank’s parent bank, Commercial Bank of Memphis.
“The Memphis Commercial banking unit is in serious need of a re-organization, but the consolidation process that was conducted under the prior merger plan has made the Memphis division much more vulnerable to the financial shocks of the current market environment,” said the request for proposals filed by Memphis Commercial.
The request also said that Memphis Commercial banks should be considered for a loan guarantee and financial services assistance from the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve.
The merger plan called for Memphis Commercial to merge in 2020 with another bank, Federal Commercial Bank.
“Memphis Commercial Bank’s current financial condition does not meet the requirements of the merger,” the request said.
The U.K.-based bank was merged into Commercial Bank in the bankruptcy settlement.
Commercial Bank said in a statement that the merger was part “of a concerted effort to consolidate assets and consolidate operations that will improve our ability to compete with the fastest growing U.B.S., UBS and other international banks.”
The UBS bank was bought by the UBS group in 2007.
The merged Commercial Bank has about $6.4 billion in deposits, including $2 million of its own money, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Commercial bank officials declined to comment.
Memphis Public Banking is another commercial banking unit that is seeking approval to merge.
Memphis’ Public Banking said in its application that the city of Memphis is a leading regional center for financial services in the region and that its mission is to provide quality, competitive and affordable banking services to its residents and business and civic leaders.
The bank filed for approval in January.
Memphis City Manager Mark Stebbins said that Public Banking has been in business for about a decade.
“We have the highest number of community banks in the country, and we have been able to expand our business to provide a more integrated banking experience that we believe works for the community and provides greater service to our residents,” he said.
“As a result of the consolidation of our commercial banking division, the Memphis Community Banking unit is no longer a commercial bank.”
Stebbsens office did not respond to requests for comment.
Commercial banks and other financial institutions that were part of a merger that led UBS to bankruptcy in November are seeking approval for a “strategic change plan” to allow for the consolidation.
The plan calls for the Memphis City Council to approve a change in the city’s charter and to approve the merger of Commercial Bank with another Memphis-based commercial bank.
Commercial Banking was the largest U.H.
B-sponsored commercial bank in the world until UBS was sold to the Swiss bank UBS AG in January 2019.
Commercial Banks’ application is scheduled to be voted on by the city council on March 23.
Commercial banking regulators have said they will hold hearings on the merger request during the upcoming two-week council meeting.
“Regulators are concerned that the proposed merger will result in increased competition and greater costs for commercial banks, particularly in areas such as loan origination, commercial lending, and investment banking,” the agency’s website said.
Memphis Business Roundtable, a non-profit organization that works to improve economic opportunity for the city, has been urging Memphis Commercial Banks to reconsider the merger.
“While it is true that the Commercial Bank merged with a regional bank in 2019 is no different than the Commercial Banking unit merged into a regional lender in 2020, we believe that the new Commercial Bank would be a better option for Memphis,” the group said in an online petition.
The group also said the merger would benefit residents and businesses by allowing them to consolidate and “offer greater access to banking services for residents, businesses, and local governments.”
The group has also asked for a public hearing on the consolidation proposal and to hold another public hearing in March.
Commercial Bancshares’ website says the Memphis-born commercial bank was formed in 1894, but its founding charter dates back to 1865.
Memphis-educated commercial bankers helped the city to win a seat on the U of M System in the late 1960s and early 1970s, according.
The Commercial Bank became the largest commercial bank on the east coast in 1978.
The Cincinnati-based bank had $2,000 million in assets as of December 31, 2019.
The financial services unit of Memphis-area banks has been among the fastest-growing in the nation.
The combined Memphis- and Cincinnati-area banking units