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RBC Bank, Wachovia, SunTrust on Weiss list of

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RBC Bank, Wachovia, SunTrust on Weiss list of vulnerable banks
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Triangle Business Journal

Raleigh-based RBC Bank is one of 20 large U.S. banks and 11 Triangle-based banks considered vulnerable by Weiss Ratings, a Florida-based company that evaluates the financial strength of insurers, banks and savings and loans.

A new Weiss report gives RBC Bank, the U.S. banking arm of the Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RBC), a “D-” The bank, with $27.5 billion in assets, has been dealing with a loan portfolio weighed down by depressed real estate in Florida.

Three other huge players in the Triangle banking market also are on the Weiss list of weakest banks. Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks (NYSE: STI) joins RBC Bank in receiving a D- rating.

Weiss gave D ratings to Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), the country’s largest commercial bank but No. 5 in the Triangle, and Triangle-market leader Wachovia, a Charlotte-based bank now owned by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC).

All told, Weiss says, 2,259 U.S. banks and savings and loans, controlling $5.8 trillion, or 43.8 percent of the industry’s total assets, are vulnerable. Those banks are given grades ranging from D+ to D-. A list of other Triangle-based banks with weak grades is at the bottom of this story.

“Major U.S. banks continue to be plagued by toxic assets and an inability to raise capital,” Martin Weiss, chairman of the ratings service, says in a news release. "Despite the federal government's help, we've witnessed 73 bank failures so far in 2010, more than double last year's pace — a pattern that is bound to continue as further loan deterioration and regulatory reform take their toll on already-shaky banks. Although most vulnerable banks will not ultimately fail, the failure rate could rise sharply if the U.S. experiences any further economic or financial adversity."

Weiss Ratings’ report comes nearly two years after the federal government spent $700 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, designed to ease the credit markets and boost the economy.

Weiss views only 962 institutions — with $484 billion, or 3.7 percent of the industry’s assets — as strong enough to be recommended to consumers. The firm gives those institutions a rating of B+ (good) or higher. No Triangle-based banks are on the good list.

"For consumers and also for bank regulators," Weiss said, "the big dilemma is that many of the largest banks are still weak, while most of the strongest banks are relatively small and have fewer branches."

Following are the Triangle-based banks on the Weiss vulnerable list. The banks are listed by grade received. Each listing gives the bank’s headquarters location and total assets.

D+


Raleigh-based Paragon Commercial Bank, $1.3 billion;
Raleigh-based North State Bank, $679 million;
Dunn-based New Century Bank, $629.3 million;
Smithfield-based KS Bank, $295.9 million;
Durham-based Mechanics & Farmers Bank, $273.8 million;

D


Johnston County-based Four Oaks Bank & Trust Co., $973.1 million;
Raleigh-based TrustAtlantic Bank, $356.2 million;
Chapel Hill-based Harrington Bank, with $295.9 million;
Fuquay-Varina-based Patriot State Bank, $137.6 million;

D-


Raleigh-based RBC Bank, $27.5 billion;
Raleigh-based Greystone Bank, $689.6 million.

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