Bank industry analysts are saying the U.S. Federal Reserve has disrupted
mid-sized bank mergers, if not derailed them, with a recent regulatory ruling.
The Wall Street Journal quoted one bank executive as saying, "I am not buying another bank for as long as I can see."
The unnamed official worked at a bank with the potential to purchase other banks, the Journal said.
Industry analysts say a sluggish economy spurs bank mergers, as lending is slow. In addition, the regulatory response to the financial crisis has included new restrictions on standard bank money-makers, such as fees for credit card swipes and penalties for overdrawn accounts.
But regional bank M&T Bank Corp. said last month a $3.8 billion deal to buy Hudson City Bancorp Inc. has stalled as the Fed wants M&T to first address problems with its anti-money laundering program.
As a result, the two banks have extended their deadline for making a deal for five months until the end of January 2014.
Executives now "understand that if we pull the trigger on a transaction, there will be a great deal of regulatory oversight and it will be more complex and take longer than it did in the past," said John Kanas, head of BankUnited Inc., a regional bank based in Florida.
The M&T decision is a "potential cold shower" for mergers, banking attorney Luigi De Ghenghi told the Journal.
M&T is considered a regional bank, but it has more than 700 branch offices and assets of $83 billion, making it the 16th largest bank in the country.
Research firm SNL Financial said there have been 713 bank acquisitions or mergers since mid-2009.
Following the previous recession, in 2001, there were 1,065 transactions over a similar four-year period, SNL said.
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