Watch Live

Tweet TWEET

Ameris Buys Two Banks, Third Closed as U.S. Failures This Year Reach 146

Ameris Bancorp purchased two shuttered Georgia banks and regulators closed a third in Arizona as the 2010 failure toll climbed to 146.

Ameris, based in Moultrie, Georgia, added almost $730 million in deposits, according to statements on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. website. The three lenders closed today had combined assets of $1 billion. The seizures cost the agency’s deposit-insurance fund $204.4 million.

“It is exciting to gain new locations in and near established offices that will further complement our existing presence in these markets,” Ameris’s chief executive officer, Edwin W. Hortman Jr., said in a separate statement. “Customers can be confident that their deposits are safe and readily accessible.”

Bank failures are mounting at the fastest pace since 1992, surpassing last year’s total of 140. The FDIC’s tally of “problem” banks climbed to 829 lenders with $403 billion in assets at the end of the second quarter, a 7 percent increase from the 775 on the list in the first quarter.

Ameris added eight branches by acquiring the operations of Darby Bank & Trust Co., of Vidalia, and Tifton Banking Co., of Tifton, according to the FDIC. The lender, formed in 1971, picked up $521 million in loans, according to the company’s statement. The two failed Georgia banks were not associated with one another, the FDIC said.

Ameris has purchased four banks this year. In October, the lender acquired First Bank of Jacksonville, in Florida, and in May, Ameris bought Satilla Community Bank of Saint Marys, Georgia. Ameris had about $2.4 billion in assets at the end of September.

Copper Star

The third failed bank, Copper Star Bank of Scottsdale, Arizona, was purchased by St. Cloud, Minnesota-based Stearns Bank, the FDIC said. Stearns paid a 1 percent premium to acquire $190.2 million in deposits, and added three branches.

The FDIC this week began to overhaul the assessment process for its deposit insurance fund in response to the Dodd-Frank legislation. On Nov. 9, the FDIC board approved a proposal that would base the fees on banks’ liabilities rather than their domestic deposits. The plan would increase assessments on banks with more than $10 billion in assets.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dakin Campbell in San Francisco at dcampbell27@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.