WASHINGTON - Flush with cash again, the Resolution Trust Corp. plans to move promptly this week to begin marketing its inventory of 63 failed savings institutions.
The agency expects to advertise 61 of the institutions in newspapers this week. Of the remaining two, one was advertised earlier and the other could be sold soon without additional marketing, a spokesman for the agency said.
All told, the 63 thrifts have assets of about $30 billion.
The group includes such prominent industry names as Carteret Federal Savings Bank of New Jersey and Great American Federal Savings Association of California, as well as several institutions ranging in deposits from $20 million to $40 million.
$18 Billion Cash Infusion
The RTC gained access to $18.3 billion in new money late Friday when President Clinton signed the Resolution Trust Corporation Completion Act into law. It gave the agency its first cash infusion in two years.
Congress last voted money for the RTC in November 1991, and President Bush signed the bill the following month. However, the $25 billion appropriated in that legislation was subject to an April 1, 1992, cutoff. The $18.3 billion made available Friday is the money left over from the 1991 legislation
Rick Hohlt, a financial industry consultant, said the sizable block of government-seized thrifts comes on the market at an opportune time and could command strong prices.
|It's Their Last Shot'
"People are paying higher premiums than ever because it's their last shot to go in and buy something without having to negotiate with the owner of an institution," he said. He noted that about 10 Florida thrifts will be on the list, and they may be attractive to institutions anxious to enter that state.
An RTC spokesman declined to comment on how much the agency expects to spend in unloading the institutions.
The $18.3 billion appropriated for the RTC is expected to be more than enough the complete the savings and loan bailout that began in 1989. The RTC's most recent estimates indicated that the job could be managed for about $8 billion.
Fund's Resources Strained
While Congress provided for the industry's corpses, healthy institutions did not fare as well in the legislation. The Savings Association insurance Fund is scheduled to begin dealing with new failures in 1995, and its resources will be strained.,
In addition to building a fund from scratch, the insurer must continue to make interest payments on two separate sets of bonds sold to deal with insolvent institutions.
The first set was sold in 1987 in a last-ditch effort to prop up the insolvent Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. The second was sold in 1989 to finance the Bush administration's plan to bail out the industry.
Because of those obligations, thrift industry representatives argued that their insurance fund would need substantial help from the federal government. Otherwise, they said, thrifts would be at a potentially ruinous competitive disadvantage against commercial banks.
Even so, Congress refused to appropriate any money for the thrifts. Instead, House and Senate negotiators agreed to authorize $8 billion for the fund, subject to a number of certifications that must be made first.
However, if the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. certifies that the industry cannot raise the money on its own, Congress would still have to vote an appropriation - and lawmakers have been reluctant in the past to vote money for thrifts.
Confident About Certification
Robert Schmermund, a spokesman for the Savings and Community Bankers of America, said officials of the big thrift trade group are optimistic now that the certification requirements can be met.
Initially, the Clinton administration asked for $17 billion for the insurance fund - in addition to $28 billion for the RTC - and the Senate Banking Committee approved that amount.
House Republicans were sharply critical of the request, however, and the funding underwent a series of cuts until the House and Senate agreed on an $18.3 billion appropriation for the RTC and an $8 billion authorization for the fund.