In a development that bodes ill for some of the banking industry's highest-profile investors, a Southern California thrift said last week that it may not be able to maintain its adequately capitalized rating and has been forced to enter into a supervisory agreement with regulators.
The announcement by $3.7 billion-asset Fidelity Federal Bank of Glendale comes less than a year after a capitalization in which it raised $109 million in an equity offering to investors including Michael F. Price's Heine Securities Corp. and J.P. Morgan & Co.
At the time, Fidelity Federal was believed by investors to have a reasonable recovery plan that included a strong possibility of being acquired by a larger bank or thrift. No such sale has materialized.
Continuing losses in Fidelity Federal's sizable portfolio of mortgage loans to multifamily residences have cut into capital to the point where the thrift's future is now in question.
"Nobody knows what the outcome will be," said one investor who asked not to be named.
At the end of the first quarter, Fidelity Federal reported that its capital met the regulatory requirements. Mark K. Mason, Fidelity Federal's chief financial officer, said the thrift believes it continued to rate as adequately capitalized in the quarter that ended June 30.
But in a press statement Fidelity Federal said it "remains concerned about maintaining its adequately capitalized status and cannot give assurances that such status can be maintained for the foreseeable future."
"Accordingly, the bank is currently evaluating the financial impact and feasibility of a number of strategic alternatives, including portfolio and entity restructuring and capitalization."
As part of the supervisory agreement with the Office of Thrift Supervision, Fidelity Federal said it will submit a three-year business plan to reduce problem assets and make the institution "well-capitalized" as defined by regulators.
Fidelity Federal also said it expects to report a loss for the second quarter, primarily because of a loan loss provision for its multifamily residential portfolio. "Asset quality, interest rates and cost reduction will continue to be the most critical factors in determining our financial performance," said Richard M. Greenwood, Fidelity Federal's president and chief executive.
In the first quarter, Fidelity Federal reported a profit of $1.05 million.