This is a good idea that I hope gains traction.
There is speculation in the banking industry that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation could start holding more two-for-one sales, so to speak, for failing banks....[S]ome deals to come in Georgia might involve the bundling of a relatively desirable bank with another bank that is either in an undesirable location geographically or that has so little franchise value it is unlikely to be acquired alone in an FDIC-assisted transaction.
The failed bank-version of a two-for-one auction is known as a “linked bid.”
Thus far, most "linked bank transactions" have involved related institutions, such as those owned by a single holding company. The "new paradigm" will assemble unrelated institutions into one bid package.
While reporter J. Scott Trubey correctly observes that "bundling banks" reduces "pressure on the resources of regulators and eliminates multiple troubled banks at once," there are advantages for a buyer, as well, particularly for a buyer that may be an acquisition group currently on the outside looking in or that owns a relatively small bank and wants to build a franchise through failed bank acquisitions. Multi-bank deals can open up the bidding process to a larger pool of bidders who are looking to pump substantial amounts of fresh capital into a new franchise and to employ a management team that can handle the consolidation, integration, and troubled asset management and workout tasks that such deals require. The Southwest Plan transactions of the late 1980s in Texas were classic blueprints for packaging groups of failed banks together based upon various factors (geographic location, for example, or similarity of asset mix) and having a larger pool of interested bidders from which to draw.
While the linked article focuses on Georgia (the elephant graveyard of banks thus far in the current meltdown), there are other geographic clusters that may make sense for such bundling, including Illinois, California, Florida, parts of the Northeast, the Northwest, the upper Midwest, and the Southwest (perhaps a New Mexico/Colorado/Arizona bundle or one centered in Colorado and encompassing a number of surrounding states). The possibilities for bundling are large, and if the 130 institutions that have failed thus far are only roughly twenty percent of what's heading down the pike, the FDIC is doing the right thing by considering this alternative. Currently, it might merit only a small squib in a regional business paper, but it's a flashing neon sign to those of us looking for glimmers of hope that there may be solid opportunities to make silk purses out of sows' ears.