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Capital One: How I Beat the Best With a 37% Stock Rocket

With all the negativity surrounding Bank of America as its mortgage putback demands mounted, and Citigroup, with investors mistrusting management's ability to turn the company around, these two stocks didn't appear to be solid long-term picks.

Capital One announced its $9 billion deal to purchase ING Direct from ING Groep (ING) on June 16, 2011. Then on Aug. 10, the company said it would buy HSBC's U.S. credit card portfolio, consisting of $30 billion in loans, for a premium of $2.6 billion, including a planned capital increase of $1.25 billion, which put some dilutive pressure on Capital One's shares.

The two acquisitions fit together beautifully, because ING Direct had over $80 billion in cheap deposits and about $41 billion in loans, leaving plenty of liquidity to fund the HSBC credit card loans.

The acquisitions promised to make Capital One the fifth-largest U.S. bank by deposits, raising an outcry among those concerned with the formation of another "too big to fail" bank, along with consumer advocacy groups who said it was a terrible thing for Capital One to pursue growth in its core competency: credit cards.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.), who was then the senior democrat of the House Financial Services Committee, requested in August 2011 that the Federal Reserve extend the public comment period before approving the ING deal, saying that "care should be taken to thoroughly examine the impact of this purchase with respect to the consolidation of banking assets, the provision of credit by the resulting bank and compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act."

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition was among the organizations pushing for the Fed to extend the comment period, and group CEO John Taylor said Capital One was aiming "to fund a larger credit card business and not to provide the safe, sound mortgages and small-business products that consumers need."

The Fed had three public hearings on Capital One's ING deal, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also took plenty of time to analyze the HSBC credit card deal. The ING acquisition was completed in February, the $1.25 billion common equity increase was completed in March, and the HSBC card purchase was finished in May.
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