Zions Bancorp. will ask regulators to approve its plans to simplify its corporate structure and reconsider its designation as a systemically important financial institution.
The Salt Lake City-based Zions said Monday that it intends to merge the parent company into its bank subsidiary, resulting in the elimination of its holding company. Chairman and CEO Harris H. Simmons said in a press release that since the company merged its separately chartered banks into a single bank two years, it no longer need a holding company.
“We now conduct essentially all our business under that single national bank charter,” Simmons said. “We believe the logical next step in rationalizing and simplifying our business is to eliminate our holding company, an entity which is no longer necessary in serving customers and providing for the needs of investors."
The $65 billion-asset Zions said it intends to simultaneously file an application with the Financial Stability Oversight Council asking regulators to determine that it is not systemically important under the Dodd-Frank Act. Though the asset cutoff for determining that a bank is systemically important remains at $50 billion, Zions said that by ceasing to become a bank holding company it could appeal its SIFI status.
“There is much evidence that a consensus exists among Washington policymakers that a straightforward regional bank of Zions' size and lack of complexity does not warrant the 'systemically important' appellation, and we are optimistic that the FSOC will arrive at that conclusion as well,” Simmons said.
The banking industry has long pushed back against the $50 billion asset threshold as a factor for determining an institution’s systemically important status. More recently, the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research said the $50 billion asset threshold should be retired in favor of a more nuanced approach to determining which banks pose a risk to the broader economy.
Zions said that assuming regulatory and shareholder approval of these requests, it expects to complete these actions within six months.