Federal Trust Corp. in Sanford, Fla., is facing an uncertain future after a second deal to recapitalize itself collapsed on the eve of a deadline its regulator had set for it to raise cash.
Now looming for the troubled thrift company is a Nov. 15 deadline to find a buyer.
The $637 million-asset company said late Monday that its deal to sell a controlling stake to a group of unnamed investors, announced just 10 days earlier, had been terminated.
The deal would have infused $40 million to $55 million of fresh capital. Federal Trust gave no details of the deal's collapse, and Dennis T. Ward, its chairman, president, and chief executive, did not return calls.
Since July, Federal Trust had been under orders from the Office of Thrift Supervision to raise sufficient capital by Sept. 30 or to find a merger partner by Nov. 15. In August, an investment group led by former Sovereign Bancorp. Inc. chairman Jay S. Sidhu agreed to invest $30 million in Federal Trust, but this deal was called off in September.
William Ruberry, a spokesman for the OTS, declined to say what the regulator would do if Federal Trust fails to find a buyer within six weeks.
The OTS handles each situation on "a case-to-case basis," Mr. Ruberry said. "There's no formula that would determine what the agency would do. The course of action is determined by the circumstances and the reading of the circumstances."
In an interview with American Banker last week, Federal Trust's Mr. Ward said he was unsure what would happen if his company failed to meet the OTS' deadlines.
"That's a question I can't even begin to answer because it's not something I have control over," he said then. "We'd have to see what the OTS has to say at that point. I think the OTS would make a decision based on what's in the best interests of the shareholders at that time."
Ken Thomas, a Miami consultant who operates the Web site branchlocation.com, said in an interview Tuesday that the failure of Congress to approve the $700 billion bailout package Monday may have played a role in the collapse of Federal Trust's deal. Roughly 11% of Federal Trust's loans are noncurrent, and he speculated that investors had been hoping the thrift could unload at least some of these loans to the government.
"Everything looks worse today because we're seeing life through magnifying glasses," Mr. Thomas said.
But Matt Olney, an analyst at Stephens Inc., said he doubts any investor would walk away from a deal simply because the federal bailout plan had not been enacted. The situation is so "fluid," he said, that he doubted anyone was "making any conclusions based on the day-to-day news."
Mr. Thomas said a possibility remains that the OTS might not shut down Federal Trust if it does not have a definitive sale agreement by Nov. 15 because the company's 11 branches are in the much-coveted Florida market.
"As long as they're getting some nibbles on deals, [the OTS] might give them some time," he said. But if a third deal fails, it could be "three strikes and you're out."
Federal Trust's share price fell to an all-time low of 20 cents Monday and was unchanged late Tuesday.