article_Juan - New York Times U.S Is Said to Be Urging New...

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October 21, 2008 New York Times U.S. Is Said to Be Urging New Mergers in Banking By MARK LANDLER WASHINGTON — In a step that could accelerate a shakeout of the nation’s banks, the Treasury Department hopes to spur a new round of mergers by steering some of the money in its $250 billion rescue package to banks that are willing to buy weaker rivals, according to government officials. As the Treasury embarks on its unprecedented recapitalization, it is becoming clear that the government wants not only to stabilize the industry, but also to reshape it. Two senior officials said the selection criteria would include banks that need more capital to finance acquisitions. “Treasury doesn’t want to prop up weak banks,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the matter. “One purpose of this plan is to drive consolidation.” With bankers traumatized by the credit crisis and the loss of investor confidence, officials said, there are plenty of banks open to selling themselves. The hurdle is a lack of well- capitalized buyers. Stable national players like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are already digesting acquisitions. A second group of so-called super-regional banks are well positioned to take over their competitors, officials said, but have been reluctant to undertake or unable to complete deals. By offering capital at a favorable rate, the government may encourage them to expand. In this category, industry analysts point to regional leaders, like KeyCorp of Cleveland; Fifth Third Bancorp of Cincinnati; BB&T of Winston-Salem, N.C.; and SunTrust Banks of Atlanta.
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