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Regulators Close AmTrust, Other Banks

AmTrust Branches were set to reopen during normal business hours as branches of New York Community Bank, but under the name of "AmTrust Bank, a division of NYCB."

Friday's Other Failures

Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance shuttered The Buckhead Community Bank of Atlanta. As receiver, the FDIC arranged for State Bank and Trust Co. of Macon, Ga. to assume the failed bank's $838 million in deposits and nearly all of its assets, which totaled $874 million. The FDIC agreed to share in losses on $692 million of the acquired assets and estimated the cost to the deposit insurance fund would be $241 million. Buckhead Community's six offices were set to reopen during normal business hours as branches of State Bank and Trust Co.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency closed First Security National Bank of Norcross, Ga. As receiver, the FDIC arranged for State Bank and Trust Co. to make its second acquisition of the evening. State Bank and Trust assumed the failed bank's $123 million of deposits and $118 million of its $128 million in assets, with the FDIC retaining the rest for later disposition. The FDIC agreed to share in losses on $82 million of the acquired assets and estimated the cost to its insurance fund would be $30 million. First Security's branches were also set to reopen during normal business hours as State Bank and Trust branches.

State regulators closed Tattnall Bank of Reidsville, Ga., which had total assets of $50 million and $47 million in deposits. The FDIC arranged for HeritageBank of the South, of Albany, Ga. to assume all of the failed bank's deposits and most of its assets, in a deal estimated to cost the insurance fund $13.9 million. HeritageBank is a subsidiary of Heritage Financial Group (HBOS). Tattnall Bank's two offices were scheduled to reopen during normal business hours as HeritageBank branches.

Elsewhere, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation shut down Benchmark Bank of Aurora, Ill., and the FDIC arranged for MB Financial Bank NA of Chicago to acquire all of the failed institution's deposits and assets.

MB Financial Bank is the main subsidiary of MB Financial Group (MBFI - Get Report), and Benchmark is its fourth government-assisted acquisition this year. The others were Corus Bank of Chicago, InBank of Oak Forest, Ill. and Heritage Community Bank of Glenwood, Ill.

Benchmark Bank had $170 million in assets and $181 million in deposits. Its five branches were set to reopen during regular business hours as branches of MB Financial Bank. The FDIC agreed to share in losses on $139 million of the acquired assets and estimated the cost to its insurance fund would be $64 million.

The OTS closed Greater Atlantic Bank of Reston, Va., and the FDIC sold the failed thrift's $203 million in assets and $179 million in deposits to Sonabank of McLean, Va., a subsidiary of Southern National Bancorp of Virginia (SONA - Get Report).

The FDIC agreed to share in losses on $145 million of assets acquired by Sonabank and estimated the cost to its insurance fund would be $35 million. Greater Atlantic Bank's five offices were scheduled to reopen during normal business hour as branches of Sonabank.

Ongoing Bank Failure Coverage

All previous bank and thrift failures for 2008 and 2009 are detailed in's interactive bank failure map:

The bank failure map is color-coded. States that have the largest number of failures are highlighted in red, and states with no failures are highlighted in gray. By hovering your mouse over a state you can see its combined 2008-2009 totals. Clicking on a state will open a detailed map that pinpoints the locations of failed banks and provides additional information for each failure.

Georgia continues to lead all states with 29 bank or thrift failures during 2008 and 2009, followed by Illinois with 21, California with 20, and Florida with 14.

Large holding companies acquiring failed institutions during 2008 and 2009 have included J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), which acquired Washington Mutual, the largest-ever bank or thrift to fail in the U.S; U.S. Bancorp (USB); SunTrust Banks (STI); Regions Financial (RF); Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB); Zions Bancorp (ZION); PNC Financial (PNC); and BB&T (BBT).

Free Financial Strength Ratings

The FDIC has extended through 2013 its temporary increase of its basic limit on insurance coverage for individual deposits to $250,000 from $100,000. The agency has also temporarily waived all deposit insurance limits for business transaction accounts (checking accounts). This waiver is set to expire on June 30, 2010, after which business checking accounts will go back to the $100,000 deposit insurance limit.

After that waiver expires, it will be more important than ever for business and municipal entities such as school districts to carefully monitor the health of their banks. It's very easy to have more than $100,000 of somebody else's money flowing through a business account. Ratings issues independent and very conservative financial strength ratings on each of the nation's 8,500 banks and savings and loans. They are available at no charge on the Banks & Thrifts Screener.

In addition, the Financial Strength Ratings for 4,000 life, health, annuity, and property/casualty insurers are available on the Insurers & HMOs Screener. Ratings also provides award-winning stock ratings, which are available on the Stock Ratings Screener. Ratings was recently ranked the No. 1 independent stock selector during the market meltdown by BNY ConvergEx Group's BNY Jaywalk.

-- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter Fla.
Philip W. van Doorn joined Ratings., Inc., in February 2007. He is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. He also comments on industry and regulatory trends. Mr. van Doorn has fifteen years experience, having served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Florida, and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Long Island University.
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