Five Surprising Industrial Banks

Industrial banks are regulated on the state level, and aren't subject to the same level of scrutiny as bank holding companies.
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) -- Industrial banks or industrial loan companies (ILCs) are regulated on a state level, but not federally. The financial reform bill had intentions to bring all banks under the same oversight, but it seems the ILC's have dodged the bullet once again.

Industrial Banks Buy Time

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Instead, the bill only calls for a study to be completed within 18 months to determine whether ILC's can remain separate or come under the same supervision as a bank holding company. This issue has been before Congress and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. since 2006.

Originally, ILCs were formed by corporations looking to lend money to their own customers but many eventually branched out to engage in more conventional banking activities.

In 1988, after a number of failures by these institutions, the FDIC moved to increase its scrutiny on the industrial banks, but allowed ILCs created before 1987 to avoid bank holding company status. The most well-known of the ILCs with grandfather status is

General Electric's

(GE) - Get Report

GE Capital Corp.

Currently there are 56 ILCs, mostly headquartered in Utah and California. The list includes some surprising names, and their parent companies lobbied hard for them to retain their status, so they must have a good thing going.

Here are five companies that we think you'd never expect to own a bank unregulated at the federal level:

Transportation Alliance Bank:

Did you ever stop for gas at a Flying J truck stop? Turns out the "home of fried liver" also operates a bank. The parent company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008, and emerged after a successful reorganization earlier this month, although it did eliminate

2,500 jobs

in the process.

The FDIC filed a cease-and-desist order on the company's Transportation Alliance Bank (TAB) in 2008, but the bank continued to operate. The entity has assets in excess of $460 million and it offers a variety of financial products, including accounts receivable financing, credit and pre-paid cards, equipment loans, and savings and investing programs, as well as operates a network of ATMs located in Flying J travel plazas.

In May, Transportation Alliance named Gary Harding to the chief credit officer position, following its hiring of Jeff Bell as president in April.

Pitney Bowes Bank


Pitney Bowes

(PBI) - Get Report

is a Stamford, Conn. company, but the office products provider also has a Utah bank with $693 million in assets and annual revenue of $170 million.

This parent company is expected to report its latest quarterly results on August 3, and analysts are looking for an overall profit of 57 cents a share in the second quarter, according to

Thomson Reuters


In the first quarter, the financing operations contributed $162 million of a total of $1.35 billion in revenue for the three-month period.

Medallion Financial:

Medallion Financial


, the New York based taxi cab operator, also has a Utah-headquartered bank.

In 2006, bank president John Taggart send a letter to the FDIC stating: "By any objective measure, the industrial bank industry has proven to be at least as safe and sound as any other group of banks and they have proven to be safer than traditional banks owned by bank holding companies."

But in February 2009, Medallion got $11.8 million in taxpayer monies through TARP, and it received an additional $9.7 million earlier this year. At the time, it made sure to note that Medallion Bank wasn't required to become a bank holding company as a condition of receiving the additional funds.

The company also said it could see the 5% dividend rate it currently pays on the TARP funds drop to as low as 1% under new legislation designed to spur small business lending as long as it continues to grow its medallion and commercial loan portfolio.


CMS Energy

(CMS) - Get Report

is also in the banking business. It's got an ILC called EnerBank that made headlines back in 2006 when

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

made a run at acquiring it.

Regulators, however, were concerned about retailers owning banks, and Atlanta-based Home Depot eventually dropped its plans.

In hindsight, the Dow component is probably happy it didn't make the push into an ILC. EnerBank lives on as a wholly owned $160 million unit of CMS Energy and specializes in home improvement and home energy loans.

Eaglemark Savings Bank:

Seems like First Bank of Hog would be a better name for


(HOG) - Get Report

industrial bank but the company went in a different direction.

Originally Eaglemark was regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, but oversight of this ILC switched to the FDIC in 2001. Eaglemark is a relatively small bank with only 5,400 outstanding loans, no charge-offs and no loan loss allowance. Bikers apparently pay on time.

With $36 million in deposits, Eaglemark is still tiny enough to ride under the radar, and the ILC keeps things simple: It provides loans to Harley Davidson customers and not much else. With current models ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, bikers need help financing these chrome-laden monstrosities.


Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.