Monday, September 1, 2008

So Many Banks, So Little Space!

Expecting more U.S. bank failures, FDIC expands Dallas office

10:46 PM CDT on Thursday, August 28, 2008
By BRENDAN M. CASE / The Dallas Morning News

Fearful of more bank failures, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is beefing up its staff in Dallas and adding five floors of space to its regional office here, FDIC officials said Thursday.

Local banks aren't necessarily the focus of concern for the FDIC, which insures bank deposits and disposes of failed banks and their assets.

Rather, most of the employees in the FDIC division that handles bank failures across the nation are based in Dallas.

The FDIC announced plans earlier this year to add 140 employees to its Division of Resolutions and Receiverships.

Now it says it may add more than 230, with local staffing going from 164 at the beginning of this year to as many as 397.

The agency is even bringing back 69 retirees to help shoulder the burden.

"With the added workload that we've experienced, we've been expanding," said Ronald Bieker, deputy director of resolutions and receiverships in Dallas.

"We're getting a few floors to accommodate the people we expect to bring on board," he said, referring to the FDIC's offices downtown.

Nine U.S. banks have failed this year, compared with three last year and none in 2005 and 2006, according to the FDIC.

Last month's failure of Pasadena, Calif.-based IndyMac Bank, with $32 billion in assets, was the largest bank failure since the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Earlier this week, the FDIC said there were 117 banks on its "problem list" at the end of June, compared with 90 at the end of March.

Many analysts expect more failures. Gerard Cassidy, a bank analyst at Canadian investment bank RBC Capital Markets, said last month that "upwards of 300 banks could fail" in the next three years.

That would mean still more work for the FDIC's bank failure experts in Dallas.

"The fact of the matter is that banks do fail," said FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray.

"We do our best to plan for scenarios, but we're in an uncertain economic environment, and more failures are likely this year."

While there is no guarantee Texas banks won't be among the casualties of the downturn, the state's banking system is considered stronger than those of many other regions, banking officials say.

The additional FDIC employees here are expected to do everything from managing bank failures to marketing the assets of failed banks to fielding calls from depositors.

The FDIC plans to add 125,000 square feet to the 185,000 square feet it already has in Energy Plaza at 1601 Bryan St.

The building is also home to Energy Future Holdings Corp., the company formerly known as TXU Corp.

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