WASHINGTON — Less than a week after its parent's bankruptcy filing, Cleveland-based AmTrust Bank failed Friday at a cost of $2 billion to the government.
The $12 billion-asset thrift was seized by the government late Friday in the fourth biggest failure of the year, ending AmTrust's 120-year run. Its operations were sold to New York Community Bank in Westbury, N.Y.
With the seizures of five other smaller institutions on Friday, including three in Georgia, 130 institutions have now failed this year. The government also closed $874 million-asset Buckhead Community Bank in Atlanta; $128 million-asset First Security National Bank in Norcross, Ga.; $50 million-asset Tattnall Bank in Reidsville, Ga.; $170 million-asset Benchmark Bank in Aurora, Ill.; and $203 million-asset Greater Atlantic Bank in Reston, Va.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimated total losses from Friday's six failures at nearly $2.4 billion.
The writing had long been on the wall for AmTrust, one of the country's biggest privately owned thrifts, following a string of losing quarters and mounting losses from construction and development loans. Last Monday its holding company, AmTrust Financial Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving the thrift's survival further in doubt.
Another victim of the hard-hit real estate markets in Florida and Arizona, AmTrust had lost $482 million over the first nine months of 2009, and at Sept. 30 had $810 million of assets in nonaccrual status, according to call-report data on file with the FDIC.
AmTrust's last profitable quarter was the one ending in March 2008. By September 2008, it suffered a quarterly loss of $311 million, and its noncurrent loans comprised more than 7% of its total portfolio.
In November 2008, OTS hit AmTrust with a cease-and-desist order demanding the thrift raise its capital levels. Since then, the institution completed two separate deals to sell some of its Ohio branches, but those transactions apparently did not satisfy regulators.
AmTrust "was in an unsafe and unsound condition because of deteriorating asset quality and insufficient capital," the OTS said in a press release Friday.
The thrift had also shrunk by nearly a third since March 2008, when it had $17 billion in assets.
The FDIC said New York Community, the $31 billion-asset subsidiary of New York Community Bancorp, will operate AmTrust's 66 branches beginning Saturday.
The acquirer paid no premium to assume all of AmTrust's $8 billion in deposits, and also agreed to take over $9 billion of the failed thrift's assets. New York Community and the FDIC will share losses on $6 billion of those assets.
While most failures involve community banks, AmTrust was the 23rd institution this year to fail that had more than $1 billion in assets. Those 23 banks held a combined $124 billion in assets.
In terms of size, AmTrust's failure trailed just that of $13 billion-asset BankUnited, which was closed in Florida in May, and was the largest failure since the government closed $11 billion-asset United Commercial Bank in San Francisco on Nov. 6.
The three failures in Georgia Friday stretched that state's 2009 failure total to 24.
The FDIC said the operations of Buckhead and First Security were both sold to State Bank and Trust Co. in Macon. The acquirer will assume all of Buckhead's $838 million in deposits and will not pay a premium. The acquirer also agreed to take over virtually all of Buckhead's assets, and will share losses with the FDIC on $692 million of those assets.
State Bank and Trust will assume all of First Security's $123 million of deposits, and acquire roughly $118 million of the failed bank's assets. The FDIC will share losses on $82 million of those assets.
The FDIC said the failures of Buckhead and First Security were estimated to cost, respectively, $241 million and $30 million.
Tattnall's $47 million of deposits were transferred to HeritageBank of the South in Albany, Ga. The acquirer also acquired virtually all of the failed bank's assets. The FDIC said the failure was estimated to cost $14 million.
The failure of Benchmark was estimated to cost $64 million. The FDIC said MB Financial Bank in Chicago agreed to assume all of Benchmark's $181 million in deposits, and take over roughly all of its assets. MB Financial and the FDIC will share losses on $139 million of those assets.
Greater Atlantic, a thrift, was estimated to cost the government $35 million. The FDIC said Sonabank in McLean, Va., will assume all of Greater Atlantic's $179 million in deposits, and take over roughly all of its assets. The FDIC and Greater Atlantic agreed to share losses from $145 million of those assets.