Corus Bankshares Inc. of Chicago must come up with a plan to bolster its capital or face a forced sale.

The $8.4 billion-asset company, once an aggressive nationwide condominium lender now crippled by bad loans, said late Wednesday that it signed strict regulatory agreements with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The agreements give the company 60 days to submit its capital plan and 120 days to get its Corus Bank to the elevated capital levels the regulators imposed. Failing to do either would trigger a new order requiring the company to sell or liquidate the bank, according to the agreements.

Corus, which halted lending in the third quarter, said late last month that nonaccruals have soared to nearly 40% of its total loans. It has mostly condo construction loans in places hard hit by the real estate meltdown, including Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and California.

It also warned that its bank, which was well capitalized at yearend under the usual regulatory guidelines, might be held to higher capital standards in the near future.

The bank had a leverage ratio of 7.87% and a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 10.99% as of Dec. 31, according to its call report. The agreement with the OCC requires the leverage ratio to be at least 9% and the Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio to be at least 12%.

Analysts have said that Corus is unlikely to attract investors, and that its survival is doubtful.

The company did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. But in reporting its quarterly results last month, Corus said it was looking for ways to raise capital. It applied for funds from the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program in November, but it disclosed last month that it expects to be rejected.

After what it called "a rapid and precipitous decline in the value of the collateral securing our loan portfolio," Corus posted a $260.7 million loss for the fourth quarter, compared to a $1.9 million profit a year earlier. The loss was the company's third in as many quarters.

It cautioned that the results are preliminary and could be adjusted after it receives appraisals that are under way on the commercial real estate securing some of its loans.

Corus set aside a $310 million provision for loan losses during the quarter, as nonperforming assets increased 525% from a year earlier, to $2 billion. At yearend it had $1.5 billion of nonaccrual loans, or nearly 40% of its overall loan portfolio.

Besides requiring the company to increase capital, the regulatory agreements limit how much Corus can pay on deposits and prohibit it from making loans until it submits a strategic plan.

Corus also must strengthen its loan review and administration, improve its liquidity, and provide progress reports to regulators, among other things.

On news of the agreements, Corus' already battered stock slipped further Thursday, to about a quarter a share.

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