Zions Bancorp., once an active acquirer, is likely to remain on the sidelines of M&A for a while.
The $57.1 billion-asset company is focused instead on fundamentals, dealing with regulatory changes and replacing three core technology systems, Chairman and Chief Executive Harris Simmons said at the company's annual meeting Friday when an attendee asked if Zions was considering getting back into acquisitions.
Additionally, the Salt Lake City company is awash in liquidity so it would not make sense to pay a premium for more deposits, Simmons said. And many of the smaller banks that could be potential takeover targets are heavily involved in commercial real estate lending. Zions has set concentration limits for different lending categories and is already bumping up against those, Simmons added.
"I wouldn't count it out but at the moment, if I were spending capital, I would do it to buy our own shares and not someone else's," Simmons said. "I would expect we would return to the business of acquiring within our footprint but it's not a near-term focus of ours right now."
The same attendee also asked if Zions was considering selling itself. Simmons said the company tried to avoid making big decisions at the bottom of a rates cycle so it was not "interested in being a seller today."
Zions' last deal was the purchase of the failed $1.6 billion-asset Vineyard Bank in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., in 2009, according to the company's website. Overall, it completed four failed-bank deals in 2008 and 2009. It went on a buying spree in the 1990s, purchasing more than two dozen banks in a decade.
At the meeting, shareholders also approved executive compensation with 99% of the votes cast in favor of the measure. A proposal by a shareholder to make the chairman an independent position failed, receiving only 15% of the votes cast.