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Eighty-Nine U.S. Banks, Thrifts Lack Capital

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Eighty-two banks and seven thrifts across the U.S. failed to hold the amount of money required by regulators, according to a full set of preliminary regulatory data for banks and savings and loan associations as of March 31.

A bank or S&L typically needs to maintain tier 1 leverage, tier 1 risk-based and total risk-based capital ratios of at least 5%, 6% and 10% to be considered well-capitalized. The ratios need to be at least 4%, 4% and 8% for an institution to be considered adequately capitalized.

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A previous list of undercapitalized banks wasn't complete, and no data were available for S&Ls. The update, the information for which was gathered by SNL Financial this week, excludes the 14 institutions that reported being undercapitalized as of March 31 and subsequently failed. Of those, five had negative capital ratios on March 31, begging the question of why it took state and federal regulators so long to close them. (See TheStreet.com's Bank Failure Map for an interactive summary of all bank and thrift failures since the start of 2008.)

In the case of BankUnited, which failed a week ago, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the institution's primary regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision, were involved in complex negotiations with groups of private equity investors looking to buy the troubled thrift's assets.

BankUnited's assets were purchased by an investor group led by John Kanas, the former CEO of NorthFork Bank, which was acquired by Capital One Financial (COF) in 2006.

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