WashingtonFirst Bankshares (WFBI) in Reston, Va., is the latest lender to divest securities on concerns about the Volcker Rule's controversial ban on collateralized debt obligations.
The $1.1 billion-asset company sold a bank trust-preferred collateralized debt obligation with a par value of about $2.7 million for $700,000, it said. The sale closed last week, and WashingtonFirst did not name the buyer.
WashingtonFirst sold the CDOs because of "uncertainty regarding the future accounting implications of such investment" under the final version of the Volcker Rule, which regulators released earlier this month. The rule, which is intended to curb risky trading by large banks, restricts banks from holding certain collateralized loan obligations and collateralized debt obligations.
Banks and industry trade groups have loudly protested the Volcker Rule's ban on certain trust-preferred CDOs and CLOs, focusing on the uncertainty over when the rule requires them to shed the assets. The rule doesn't take effect until July 2015, but many banks have interpreted the rule as requiring them to divest the assets by the end of this year.
Shortly after issuing the final rule, regulators issued further guidance in an attempt to clarify the deadline for banks to sell their CDOs, but many industry advocates have claimed the rule remains unclear. The American Bankers Association said this week that it will sue regulators unless the CDO ban is immediately suspended.
WashingtonFirst will record a fourth-quarter charge of about $900,000 on the sale, offset by an accounting gain due to a difference between the CDO's carrying value and book value. Cumulatively, WashingtonFirst will gain $400,000 on the sale in the fourth quarter, it said.
WashingtonFirst is the fourth bank to announce that it has sold collateralized securities to comply with the Volcker Rule. The others were Zions Bancorp (ZION) in Salt Lake City, BankUnited (BKU) in Florida and Cape Bancorp (CBNJ) in New Jersey.