Farrow reported to head reconstituted ShoreBank

By Becky Yerak
Posted Aug. 20, 2010 at 2:27 p.m.

The group seeking to buy ShoreBank, the ailing South Side lender expected to be seized by federal regulators Friday, plans to name former First Chicago executive Bill Farrow as the chief executive and president of the institution if it succeeds at bidding for certain assets and deposits of the failing bank.

It means that three former First Chicago executives will be running the show if their bid succeeds.Many of the large institutions that earlier had committed about $150 million to Chicago-based ShoreBank as it unsuccessfully sought $75 million in government aid will be investors in the new bank, whose charter is named Urban Partnership Bank.

They’ll likely put in about the same amounts as before, though  a few smaller contributors might have dropped out. Besides big banks, the group also will  include philanthropic groups, insurance companies and socially minded individuals who believe in ShoreBank’s mission of serving underserved communities in Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.

The new bank will be led by Farrow,  who was  recently  hired as ShoreBank president and chief operating officer, as well as David Vitale, who recently became executive chairman, and Eileen Kennedy, who was recently named chief financial officer.

Hobbled by bad loans, the bank is effectively sidelined, without the capital it needs to extend credit or convince regulators it has the wherewithal to continue.

With about $150 million in private commitments from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and others, ShoreBank hoped the private commitments would have made it eligible to receive about $75 million through the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

But regulators didn’t believe that $225 million would do the trick, and investors are being pushed for more private funds that could, in one scenario, be used to recapitalize the bank after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seizes it.

ShoreBank’s ties to Washington insiders also backfired as critics said that few other troubled community banks would be considered for a taxpayer-funded bailout if they weren’t as politically connected.

Loans on ShoreBank’s  books have fallen from nearly $1.5 billion as of March 31, 2009, to about $1.3 billion as regulators restricted ShoreBank’s lending and the bank tried to conserve capital.

As of June 30, ShoreBank carried about $5 million in foreclosed real estate  and about $335 million in seriously delinquent loans. Roughly a third of those loans were related to apartment buildings and other properties that accommodate at least five families.

But some believe ShoreBank’s business model may be outmoded and that any institution trying to fill the void, even if it involves ShoreBank’s private investor group and management, would have to operate differently.

From its beginning in 1973, the mission of South Shore Bank, later ShoreBank, was to revitalize declining, mostly black Chicago neighborhoods. Redlining and other discriminatory practices had taken a toll on communities such as South Shore, and the bank set out to prove that reinvestment could help revitalize communities.

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, the bank fulfilled its mission. Black-owned businesses, deemed too risky for big banks, sprouted up. Renters with stable jobs but less-than-stellar credit became homeowners. And for 35 years, ShoreBank was profitable, according to bank officials.


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  1. Innocent_III Aug. 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    The median home price in zipcode 60649 went from over $180,000. at the end of 2007 to just over $60,000. at the beginning of 2010 ( http://www.city-data.com/zips/60649.html ).

    Since this is where many of ShoreBank’s customers are, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many of these loans have gone bad.

    Yet the question remains– were these loans made prudently to begin with and, if not, why shouldn’t ShoreBank pay for its mistakes?

    After all, ShoreBank’s depositors are protected by FDIC. And, it’s surely not “too big to fail.” So, why not let it fail?

  2. KPO'M Aug. 20, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    It just hit the FDIC website so it’s official. The bad news is that current management will be retained to head the new bank. That’s highly unusual and reeks of favoritism. Normally, the management who ran the bank into the ground can’t be associated with the group who takes over a failed bank.

  3. Bob Aug. 21, 2010 at 6:36 a.m.

    Let’s see. the liberal incompetents who ran the bank will continue to run the bank, but with taxpayer subsidy of $368 million. That makes sense.