October 22, 2010 – First Bank of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida, which has been under a consent order since November 2009, was closed today by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. First Bank had been attempting to raise $5 million in a private stock placement to fulfill regulators demands to increase capital, but was unable to do so.
The FDIC, appointed as receiver by Florida regulators, entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Ameris Bank, Moultrie, Georgia, to assume all deposits and purchase essentially all assets of failed First Bank.
First Bank of Jacksonville was one of the smallest banks in Northeast Florida with only two branches and $81 million in total assets and $77.3 million in total deposits as of June 30, 2010. According to First Bank’s web site, the bank was privately owned and focused on serving the needs of the local community.
In 1989, First Bank of Jacksonville opened its doors with a mission of service in the finest traditions of true community banking. As the first independent bank in Mandarin, we set a standard for commitment to the financial needs of families and business owners throughout the community.
Today, our legacy continues to grow. In 2004, First Bank’s stock was purchased by a group of local business and civic leaders who share our passion for independent, responsive banking. Our majority owners, Harry Trevett of Jacksonville and Jay Mock, of Fernandina Beach, continue our heritage of local ownership and local focus as we go about providing tailored financial solutions and impeccable personal service.
The difference is visible and it’s tangible. At First Bank, we keep local dollars actively at work right here at home, and we make loan decisions locally, too.
Ameris Bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ameris Bancorp, headquartered in Moultrie, Georgia. President & CEO of Ameris Bank, Edwin Hortman, said, “It is my pleasure to welcome First Bank’s customers and employees to the Ameris Bank family. Customers can be confident that their deposits are safe and readily accessible. As a result of this acquisition, Ameris Bank will assume approximately $78 million in total deposits and $56 million in total loans. All of the loans purchased from the FDIC are covered under loss-sharing agreements that afford the Company significant protection from losses.”
As is typical with the purchase of failed bank purchases, the FDIC provides substantial loss protection to the acquiring bank through the use of loss-share transactions. In the case of First Bank, the FDIC will provide loss protection on $60 million of the assets purchased by Ameris Bank. In addition, Ameris did not pay the FDIC a premium on the acquisition of First Bank’s deposits.
There has been much discussion in the press lately about the increased competition for failed banks by buyers. The case of failed First Bank may indicate that the competition to buy failed banks is more hype than reality. Consider that Ameris Bank was the recipient of TARP money, receiving $52 million dollars in November 2008 from the US Treasury in exchange for Ameris preferred stock and warrants under the Capital Purchase Program. Ameris Bancorp still owes the US Treasury $47.5 million dollars, although they have been making the required dividend payments on time and to date, have paid the US Treasury $4.5 million. It would seem logical that if the FDIC had a large number of suitors for each failed bank, they would select the financially strongest buyer and exclude institutions that have not paid back government TARP money.
Ameris Bancorp, a $2.4 billion asset institution, reported a net loss of $1.7 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2010, compared to a net loss of $.9 million for the third quarter of 2009. Bank President and CEO, Edwin Hortman, noted that “Our operations continue to produce strong levels of pre-tax, pre-provision earnings, at levels close to 2.00% on average assets. This is due to higher net interest margins and reduced levels of operating expenses. With respect to credit quality, we are seeing positive trends in classified assets and problem loan formation and we believe that efforts to sell OREO will yield results in the coming quarters.”
Ameris Bancorp had previously acquired another failed bank in May 2010, $142 million asset Satilla Community Bank of St. Marys, Georgia.
First Bank of Jacksonville is the 133rd banking failure of the year and the 26th in Florida. The failure of First Bank will cost the FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund an estimated $16.2 million.