TCF's Cooper Sees Progress in Fight to Roll Back Durbin

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The banking company leading the legal challenge to the Durbin Amendment's cap on debit interchange said Thursday that it sees evidence of progress on other fronts of the battle.

With the caveat that "I probably have better luck picking the ponies" than the outcome of Senate debates, Bill Cooper, the chief executive of TCF Financial Corp., said momentum seemed to be shifting to the cap's opponents.

"There are a lot of positive things happening," he said of regulators' increasingly public concerns about the law. "The Fed, who is the defendant in [TCF's lawsuit], said, 'gee, we're not going to issue the rule [on time],' and kind of even indicates, 'gee, a delay is a good idea.'"

The Senate legislation would provide that breathing room, Cooper said.

"I think almost everybody that even had an observer of the economy in the banking world believes that a two-year study of this thing would be appropriate, because they never did it in the first place."

Cooper's comments came on a conference call announcing TCF's $30 million first quarter profit, down $4 million from a year earlier. The company's net interest income remained virtually unchanged quarter over quarter, at $174 million.

TCFs overall loan book remained relatively steady, decreasing from $14.83 billion to $14.74 billion. The company also reported a 4.06% net interest margin and a decline in nonperforming assets, which fell by more than 5% to $25.1 million.

"We've had, in all of the major indices associated with credit, significant improvement," Cooper said on the call. "We're going to put more emphasis on account growth in the remaining part of this year. …. We're going to work hard on that, and remain optimistic."

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