Utah regulators close Centennial Bank

Main office in Ogden; branches in Layton, Clinton, South Jordan, Orem

Deseret News and wire reports

Published: Friday, March 5 2010 9:40 p.m. MST

OGDEN — State regulators closed Centennial Bank on Friday, with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. taking control.

The bank, which had $215.2 million in assets and $205.1 million in deposits, was closed by the Utah Department of Financial Institutions. The FDIC was named receiver.

The FDIC was unable to find a buyer for Centennial Bank, and it approved the payout of the institution's insured deposits. As a result, checks to the retail depositors for their insured funds will be mailed on Monday.

Salt Lake-based Zions First National Bank agreed to accept the failed bank's direct deposits from the federal government, including Social Security and veterans' payments.

Centennial was established in 1997 and was owned and controlled by local investors. The company's Web site said its original primary mission was to supply construction and real estate loans throughout the state.

In addition to the main office in Ogden, Centennial had branches in Layton, Clinton, South Jordan and Orem, according to Centennial's Web site.

Depositors' money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. Apart from the fund, the FDIC has about $66 billion in cash and securities available in reserve to cover losses at failed banks.

Centennial is the second Utah bank to fail this year. Barnes Banking Co., based in Kaysville, was closed Jan. 15.

At the time of closing, Centennial had an estimated $1.8 million in uninsured funds. "This amount is an estimate that is likely to change once the FDIC obtains additional information from these customers," the FDIC said Friday.

Customers with questions about the closing can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-889-4976. Customers with accounts in excess of $250,000 also should contact the toll-free number to set up an appointment to discuss their deposits, the FDIC said. The phone number will be operational from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today; from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday; and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. thereafter.

Details also are available at www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/centennial-ut.html.

Beginning Monday, Centennial customers with deposits exceeding $250,000 at the bank may visit the FDIC's Web page "Is My Account Fully Insured?" at www2.fdic.gov/drrip/afi/index.asp.

The closure was one of several Friday in four states, boosting to 26 the number of bank failures in the U.S. so far this year following the 140 brought down in 2009 by mounting loan defaults and the recession.

The FDIC took over Sun American Bank, based in Boca Raton, Fla., with $535.7 million in assets and $443.5 million in deposits. Also seized were Bank of Illinois of Normal, Ill., with $211.7 million in assets and $198.5 million in deposits; and Waterfield Bank in Germantown, Md., with $155.6 million in assets and $156.4 million in deposits.

The pace of bank seizures this year is likely to accelerate in coming months, FDIC officials have said.

As the economy has weakened, with unemployment rising, home prices tumbling and loan defaults soaring, bank failures have mounted, sapping billions of dollars out of the deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, hitting a $20.9 billion deficit as of Dec. 31.

Banks, meanwhile, have tightened their lending standards. U.S. bank lending last year posted its steepest drop since World War II as the volume of loans fell $587.3 billion, or 7.5 percent, from 2008, the FDIC reported recently.

President Barack Obama recently promoted a $30 billion plan to provide money to community banks if they boost lending to small businesses. The program, which must be approved by Congress, would use money repaid by banks to the $700 billion federal bailout fund.

But many lawmakers want the $30 billion sent directly to the federal Small Business Administration. It would then decide which businesses should get loans.

The number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem" list jumped to 702 in the fourth quarter from 552 three months earlier, even as the industry squeezed out a small profit. Banks earned $914 million, compared with a $37.8 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. Still, nearly one in every three banks reported a net loss for the latest quarter.

The 140 bank failures last year were the highest annual tally since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. They cost the insurance fund more than $30 billion. There were 25 bank failures in 2008 and just three in 2007.

The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years.

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

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