Where's the Love?

Richard Davis, U.S. Bancorp's chairman and chief executive officer, takes umbrage at the notion that banks are refusing to lend.

"We don't deserve to be criticized for not lending," Davis said last week at a panel discussion in Irvine, Calif., sponsored by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP. "Banks' lending appetite is greater than Americans' need for loans."

U.S. Bank customers have reduced their lines of credit by 7% so far this year, which Davis said was a sign that people are cutting back and waiting for a turnaround.

He admitted that the purpose of banking — "to bear risk and allocate capital" — somehow got out of whack in the last five years and "the outcome was to have created risk."

"We've been vilified as a class of people that have done something wrong," he told the audience of 125, mostly bankers, at the University of California at Irvine. "We would appreciate a little more love."

Many new businesses and consumers in need of loans right now may be bad credit risks, he said, and regulators will penalize banks for making such loans. "Our big obligation is, we have to have the courage to make the loan to new companies or to companies with a core banking relationship even if we'll be charged hard money against our capital for it," he said.

One Man's Trash …

Nick Stonestreet chose an interesting time to return to private banking.

Stonestreet on Monday joined Regions Financial Corp. to lead the private banking division in the company's business services group. A former private banker at Merrill Lynch & Co., he left the New York investment bank in July 2007 to become the CEO of BCR Environmental LLC, a young water and waste management company.

So why get back into banking now, with the economy mired in recession?

"I wasn't looking for a job," Stonestreet said. What attracted him was a chance to help clients rebuild after a turbulent year. "People have been through so much, and the impact of the damage has been felt so profoundly by investors."

Meanwhile, he will remain on the board of BCR. Stonestreet has a degree in biology along with a masters in international business studies.

London Rain(maker)

Andrea Orcel, a top London dealmaker for Bank of America Corp. and one of the highest-ranking holdovers from Merrill Lynch, has been named executive chairman of global banking and markets for the Charlotte company, according to a person familiar with the matter.

He is to stay in London and report to Tom Montag, B of A's head of corporate and investment banking.

The fate of Orcel has been one of the biggest questions facing Montag. Top bankers have left the former Merrill overseas operation since its purchase closed in January.

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