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More than 100 U.S. banks have failed

WASHINGTON — U.S. bank failures this year have surpassed a bleak milestone of 100 as regulators shut down banks in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kansas, Nevada, Minnesota and Oregon.

The seven bank seizures announced last Friday bring to 103 the failures so far in 2010. The pace of bank closures this year is well ahead of that of 2009, which saw a total of 140 banks shuttered amid the recession and mounting loan defaults. That was the highest annual tally since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis.

The pace has accelerated as banks’ losses mount on loans made for commercial property and development. Many companies have shut down in the recession, vacating shopping malls and office buildings financed by the loans. That has brought delinquent loan payments and defaults by commercial developers.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it took over Crescent Bank and Trust Co., based in Jasper, Ga., with about $1 billion in assets; Sterling Bank of Lantana, Fla., with $407.9 million in assets; Williamsburg First National Bank of Kingstree, S.C., $139.3 million in assets; Thunder Bank of Sylvan Grove, Kan., $32.6 million; SouthwestUSA Bank, with one branch in Las Vegas, $214 million; Community Security Bank of New Prague, Minn., $108 million; and Home Valley Bank of Cave Junction, Ore., $251.8 million.

Renasant Bank, based in Tupelo, agreed to assume the assets and deposits of Crescent Bank and Trust. Iberiabank of Lafayette, La., is acquiring the assets and deposits of Sterling Bank. First Citizens Bank and Trust Co. of Columbia, S.C., is assuming the assets and deposits of Williamsburg First National Bank, while Bennington State Bank in Salina, Kan., is taking the assets and deposits of Thunder Bank.

Roundbank of Waseca, Minn., is assuming those of Community Security Bank. Plaza Bank, based in Irvine, Calif., is acquiring the deposits of SouthwestUSA Bank and $137.3 million of the assets. The FDIC will retain the rest for eventual sale. South Valley Bank & Trust in Klamath Falls, Ore., is assuming the assets and deposits of Home Valley Bank.

The failure of Crescent Bank and Trust is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund about $242.4 million. The resolution of Sterling Bank is estimated to cost $45.5 million; that of Williamsburg First National Bank, $8.8 million; Thunder Bank, $4.5 million; SouthwestUSA Bank, $74.1 million; Community Security Bank, $18.6 million; and Home Valley Bank, $37.1 million.

By this time last year, regulators had closed 64 banks.

The number of bank failures is expected to peak this year and be slightly higher than the 140 that fell in 2009. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force, and only three succumbed in 2007.

The growing bank failures have sapped billions of dollars out of the deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, and its deficit stood at $20.7 billion as of March 31.

The number of banks on the FDIC’s confidential “problem” list jumped to 775 in the first quarter, from 702 three months earlier, even as the industry as a whole had its best quarter in two years.

A majority of institutions posted profit gains in the January-March quarter. But many small and midsized banks are likely to continue to suffer distress in the coming months and years, especially from soured loans for office buildings and development projects.

The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to total around $60 billion from 2010 through 2014.

The agency mandated last year that banks prepay about $45 billion in premiums, for 2010 through 2012, to replenish the insurance fund.

Depositors’ money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. That insurance cap was made permanent in the financial overhaul legislation signed this week by President Barack Obama.


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