Receiving Wide Coverage ...
RIP: Robert Wilmers, the chairman and CEO of M&T Bank and the longest-serving head of a large American bank, died Saturday at the age of 83. Wilmers “was synonymous with M&T, which he had run from May 1983, turning it [from] a local, $2 billion-in-assets lender to one with more than $120 billion, spread across the northeast of the country,” the Financial Times relates.

“For Mr. Wilmers, who controlled roughly 6% of M&T, banking was a simple business of lending to high-quality borrowers in communities the bank knew,” the Wall Street Journal says. “M&T shares were among the sector’s strongest performers over recent decades, even though M&T’s expansion focused on slow-growth markets in upstate New York and the Rust Belt.” Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, American Banker

Bitcoin futures, part 2: CME Group, the largest futures exchange company, started trading bitcoin futures on Sunday, a week after its smaller rival Cboe Global launched its own contract. “Compared with Cboe’s bitcoin futures, CME’s offering may appeal more to hedge funds and big financial firms and less to retail investors,” the Journal says. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times

Wall Street Journal
Behind the firing: Jim McCarthy, one of Visa’s most senior and high-profile executives, and “the face of the company’s partnerships with tech giants like Apple and PayPal,” was fired two weeks ago after it became known that he had been involved in romantic relationships with women at the company without informing the company, the paper reports. An internal company probe also found McCarthy, who “had a reputation as a rainmaker” at Visa, also responsible for “what were considered inappropriate comments made to a female employee in his division.” He thus becomes “one of the highest-ranking men in finance to lose his job due to issues of alleged sexual impropriety.”

Recused: Randal Quarles, the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman for supervision, said he would recuse himself in matters related to Wells Fargo “to avoid even the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.” Quarles is married to Hope Eccles, a relative of Marriner S. Eccles, who ran the Fed from 1934 until 1948. The Eccles family owns shares in Wells following the sale of a Utah bank in 2000.

Randal Quarles, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Randal Quarles, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Bloomberg News

Here to stay: Reports of the death of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may prove to be exaggerated. “Lawmakers in both parties and the Trump administration are negotiating overhauls of the two companies that could keep them at the center of the U.S. mortgage market for years to come, abandoning long-stalled proposals to wind them down,” the paper reports. The two agencies, which have been in government conservatorship since the financial crisis but remain critical to the home mortgage market, “have proven too risky to attempt replacing.” Not everyone agrees.

Cause for worry?: Banks are making an increasing number of highly leveraged loans to investors, which has some people worried. “A decade ago, overleveraged banks and investors nearly crashed the global financial system,” the paper states. “While leverage is nowhere near those levels and new banking regulations place restrictions on how high it can go, some bankers and funds are still concerned about signs of leverage creeping back into the system. Funds report that banks have been stepping up their efforts to lend to investors and they are increasingly saying yes.”

“It’s a sad day. Out of this tiny little bank in Buffalo, he really built a supercharged bank. He had a fixation on credit and a fixation on communities, and he stuck to what he knew how to do.” — Rodgin Cohen, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, on the death of M&T Bank Chairman and CEO Bob Wilmers.

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