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Bank M&A Complicated by Failures

But Kevin Mukri, a spokesman for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks, says the regulator's standards haven't changed as a result of the crisis.

"We haven't tightened or loosened any of the standards," Mukri says, adding that in terms of time lapses between deal announcements and closings, "we're pretty quick on it," so long as the OCC is able to verify the capital requirements needed.

The OCC also encourages interested parties looking to start or buy a bank to undertake a discussion with the regulator beforehand to give a sort of heads up, he adds.

"We have not seen any inordinate delays on our end in approving ... on proposed deals," says William Ruberry, a spokesman for the Office of Thrift Supervision. "What we have seen is that there are fewer applications that have come our way," especially for new institutions.

A spokesman for the FDIC did not immediately comment.

In the case of Sterling, the lack of quick regulatory approval ended up being a blessing in disguise, analysts say.

Oppenheimer analyst Terry McEvoy notes that Sterling's credit quality deteriorated since it announced the deal and that it had to restate third-quarter results in November, which clearly put pressure on its capital levels, he says.

Analysts were concerned that Sterling would have had to raise common equity in order to get the deal done, despite successfully repurchasing preferred stock owned by the U.S. government last year, which may or may not have been received well after Bank of America (BAC - Get Report), Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) and Citigroup (C - Get Report) each completed large common equity offerings in late 2009.
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