Houston de novo effort secures conditional regulatory approval

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A Houston group seeking to charter a women-led community bank has received conditional approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Agility Bank's organizers need to raise $30 million to $35 million in capital before opening, Chairwoman and CEO Lauren Sparks said Tuesday. She expects Agility to open in the second quarter.

Despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Sparks said she foresees a smooth capital raise.

“We understand the current environment because we’ve been operating in it for so long,” she said.

“We won’t have any legacy loans,” Sparks added. “ We can make every decision through the lens of the pandemic.”

The group behind the proposed First Women's Bank in Chicago received its preliminary approval in July. That de novo's organizers aim to raise $50 million.

The FDIC has approved 15 charters this year, and five of those have opened. The agency signed off on nine charters in 2019.

Not every planned de novo has fared as well.

Organizers of the proposed Coastal Community Bank in Hollywood, Fla., withdrew their application in June after struggling to raise capital. A month later, Texas Banking Commissioner Charles Cooper denied an application by a group seeking to start a de novo in a Dallas suburb.

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De novo institutions Community banks OCC FDIC Coronavirus Women in Banking