Thursday, October 30, 2014

Former BofA chairman to chair Shell's board

Chad Holliday Jr. is going from helping Bank of America recover from the financial crisis to helping Royal Dutch Shell deal with slumping oil prices.

Holliday, who was Bank of America's chairman until CEO Brian Moynihan replaced him earlier this month, was named chairman of Shell on Thursday. Holliday is expected to take over the post next year, replacing Jorma Ollila, who is stepping down after nine years as chairman.

A spokesman for Charlotte-based Bank of America could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday on whether Holliday will continue to be a board member for the bank.

Holliday has served on the bank's board since 2009 and became director in 2010.

He is currently chairman of Shell's Corporate and Social Responsibility Committee and is a member of its Remuneration Committee, the Netherlands-based oil giant said.

Holliday, former CEO of chemical company DuPont, also serves on the board of Deere and Co., maker of John Deere equipment.

In handing Moynihan the chairman title, Bank of America's board rolled back a rare victory for shareholders who voted in 2009 to split the CEO and chairman roles in the fallout from the bank’s handling of its Merrill Lynch purchase.

After the vote, then-CEO Ken Lewis gave up the chairman role and later retired by year’s end.

Park Sterling reports lower third-quarter profit

The parent company of Park Sterling Bank reported lower profit in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, as expenses associated with its acquisition of a Rock Hill lender weighed on earnings.

Charlotte-based Park Sterling Corp. said Thursday it posted profit of $2.5 million, or 6 cents per share, in the quarter. That was down from profit of $4.2 million, or 10 cents per share, a year ago.

The regional lender blamed the declined primarily on a $2.1 million increase in expenses tied to merging with Provident Community Bancshares, which Park Sterling bought in May.

That acquisition also helped boost Park Sterling's third-quarter revenue to a record $23.9 million in the quarter. The company said the record revenue was also driven in part by "organic" loan growth of $78.5 million, which was also a record.

When banks refer to "organic" loan growth, they mean new loans that they originated. That's different from, say, loan growth from the acquisition of another lender.

On Thursday, Park Sterling said it has opened a second branch in the Richmond, Va., area. That branch opened this month, it said.

Park Sterling entered the Richmond market earlier this year when it opened a loan-production office that it later converted into a full-service branch.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Paragon reports lower third-quarter profit

The parent company of Paragon Bank on Tuesday reported lower third-quarter profit compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Raleigh-based Paragon Commercial Corp. said it had $1.5 million in profit, or 34 cents per share, down about 30 percent from $2.2 million a year ago.

The company blamed the lower profit primarily on a $480,000 reduction it made in the third quarter of last year to its reserves for loans that go bad. That reduction helped third-quarter 2013 income, Paragon said.

The bank did not add to its reserves in the recent third quarter. That comes as other banks have also been setting aside less money to cover soured loans as the number of problem loans on their books keeps falling.

Paragon said its net interest income rose by about $792,000 in the quarter from a year ago. Its total deposits increased by $126.2 million, or 17 percent. Its loans increased by $73.5 million, or 10 percent, to $820.9 million.

The company's total assets were $1.14 billion at the end of the third quarter, up from $1.04 billion at the end of last year.

“Management and the board are extremely excited about Paragon Bank’s earnings and overall balance sheet growth over the past 12 months,” Paragon President Bob Hatley said in a statement. “We are well positioned for further growth and profitability in 2015.”

Paragon has three offices, all in North Carolina. They are in Raleigh, Charlotte and, as of this month, Cary.

The company said the opening of the Cary office was a factor in its non-interest expenses rising to $5.7 million from $4.8 million in the second quarter of this year.

Paragon employs about 24 people in Charlotte. Earlier this year it open a new Charlotte office at 6337 Morrison Blvd. Prior to that it was in Piedmont Town Center.

Last year, Paragon "refreshed" its brand, rolling out a new logo and website as part of a strategy to draw more attention to its private-banking services. That move came after the bank changed its name last year from Paragon Commercial Bank in an effort to make potential customers think of it as more than just a lender to businesses.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yadkin Financial posts lower third-quarter profit

Raleigh-based Yadkin Financial Corp. posted lower profit in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, as merger-related expenses weighed on the earnings of North Carolina's largest community bank.

Yadkin reported profit of $319,000 in the third quarter, or 1 cent per share, down from profit of $479,000, or 5 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Early in the quarter, Elkin-based Yadkin merged with Raleigh-based VantageSouth Bancshares, forming the state's biggest community bank. The merged bank holding company kept the Yadkin name and made Raleigh the headquarters.

The company said the merger helped boost its net interest income to $41.5 million, up from $19.9 million a year ago. The company also credited the merger with higher non-interest income, which rose to $9.1 million from $4.5 million.

But the merger also drove up expenses, particularly non-interest expense, which more than doubled to $48.2 million. That figure included $17.3 million in costs associated with the merger, including conversion expenses.

Yadkin Financial Corp. is the holding company for Yadkin Bank, which has 260 employees in the Charlotte metropolitan area. The bank's Small Business Administration lending operation is headquartered in Charlotte.

Yadkin Financial Corp. has $4.2 billion in assets.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Uwharrie Capital profit rises in third quarter

Albermarle-based Uwharrie Capital posted  higher profit in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago, an improvement it attributed primarily to the recent consolidation of its three bank subsidiaries.

Uwharrie said its had third-quarter earnings of $250,000, an increase of 481 percent from last year. Earnings per share totaled 3 cents.

Last year, the company consolidated Cabarrus Bank and Trust, Bank of Stanly and Anson Bank and Trust under one name, Uwharrie Bank. CEO Roger Dick told the Observer last year that the move should save upwards of $1 million a year in infrastructure and compliance costs.

Operating efficiencies from the consolidation were the main contributor to the higher earnings in the recent third quarter, the company said. A decline in problem assets and strong performance in its wealth management division were other contributors, it said.

According to the latest federal data, Uwharrie Bank has two branches in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Those branches have a combined total of $112.7 million in deposits.

BofA holds reception in Charlotte for longtime employees

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan recognized employees who have worked for the company for at least 50 years during a reception last week at its Charlotte headquarters.

Of course, the Bank of America name has only been around for 16 years and was created when Charlotte’s NationsBank bought San Francisco-based BankAmerica in 1998.

That means the employees who were honored last week have also worked for a Bank of America predecessor company.

It's the second year in a row that Moynihan, who became CEO in 2010, has held an event in Charlotte to honor employees who have been with the company for at least 50 years.

"This recognition is part of our ongoing efforts to recognize employees for their dedication and time with the company," spokeswoman Ferris Morrison said.

Eleven employees, none of whom work in the Charlotte metropolitan area, were honored at the event last week, Morrison said. The employees work across the bank's U.S. footprint, she said.

The event was held in Bank of America Corporate Center’s Founders Hall.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Griggs Capital Management merges with Raleigh firm

Charlotte-based wealth management company Griggs Capital Management and Raleigh-based VisionQuest Wealth Management announced Thursday that they have merged.

Randall Griggs, president and founder of Griggs Capital Management, said the merged company will go by the VisionQuest name and remain headquartered in Raleigh but plans to open an office in Charlotte.

He said the merger was finalized Oct. 1. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Griggs, 66, said he searched for about a year and a half for someone to merge with as part of a succession plan for his company, which has just two employees and roughly $30 million in assets under management.

The primary driver of the merger was an opportunity to give his clients access to more services and the experience of VisionQuest, which has a staff of about eight, Griggs said.

Under the deal, Griggs will serve as senior vice president at VisionQuest and be a member of its investment committee.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

BB&T reports higher third-quarter profit

BB&T Corp. said Thursday it made higher profit in the third quarter compared with a year ago, when the regional lender's earnings were lowered because of a tax dispute.

Winston-Salem-based BB&T said it earned $520 million in the quarter, up from $268 million in the same quarter last year.

In last year's third quarter, BB&T's earnings were impacted by $235 million it had to set aside for income taxes after a judge ruled against it in a tax case involving the Internal Revenue Service. The ruling came after the IRS had challenged BB&T on its use of foreign tax credits in a 2002 transaction.

BB&T said it would have made $503 million in profit in last year's third quarter if it hadn't had to set aside the $235 million.

In the recent third-quarter, BB&T made $2.32 billion in revenue, down slightly from $2.35 million in the same quarter last year.

“Our results for the third quarter were strong, with solid fee income, broad-based loan and core deposit growth, and continued improvement in credit quality,” CEO Kelly King said in a statement.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Local bankers raise $350,000 for nonprofits

Charlotte's financial services industry raised $350,000 for seven local nonprofits during the annual "Banking On Our Community" event last week.

Kelligrew (Stephanie Chesson Photography)
The event, which is in its third year, was held Thursday at the Mint Museum in uptown Charlotte. The amount raised this year exceeded last year's level by $50,000.

“Charlotte’s nonprofit sector took a hit during the recession, limiting the breadth of essential services it could provide," Jim Kelligrew, an executive for U.S. Bancorp, said in a statement. "Now that the economy’s back on track, it’s important for our region’s vibrant financial services industry to band together and invest in our community."

Kelligrew, who is based in Charlotte and heads the bank's fixed income and capital markets group, came up with the idea for the event. He and Wells Fargo executive Lisa DeCarlo have co-chaired the event since its launch.

Over the past three years, the event has raised about $900,000 for nonprofits in Charlotte, according to a news release.

More than 250 members of the financial services community attended Thursday's event. The funds raised will go to Autism Charlotte, Charlotte Bridge Home, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, the John Crosland School, Lily Pad Haven, Mint Museum and the United Way of Central Carolinas.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Senator questions BofA contract

A U.S. senator is raising questions about a multimillion-dollar government contract awarded to Bank of America for work involving the federal prison system.

The letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, comes after The Center for Public Integrity reported in a story last week that Bank of America has collected at least $76.3 million over the past 14 years from the contract awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department. The center, a nonprofit news organization, reported that the contract was awarded without a competitive bidding process.

According to the center's story, the contract has been amended 22 times in the past 14 years, growing from its initial $14.4 million value. The original deal called for the bank to manage federal inmates’ accounts and prison store inventory but has been expanded to include other services, including electronic money transfers, phone technology and e-messaging, according to the story.

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin declined to comment.

In a statement, a Treasury Department spokesperson said the department entered into the deal with Bank of America as it sought to create a "cashless" prison system at the request of the Bureau of Prisons. The deal expires May 31.

In his letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Grassley writes that the Treasury department's decision to repeatedly amend the contract rather than put it through a competitive-bidding process "raises significant questions."

"This original agreement, signed in 2000, has now been amended 22 times yet it has never been competitively bid and it is unclear how much money Bank of America has received from taxpayers and inmates as a result of this agreement," Grassley wrote.

"Government contracting rules require vendors to report credible evidence of fraud and conflicts of interests to the agency’s inspector general and the officer overseeing the contract," Grassley wrote. "It is concerning that these requirements do not apply to financial agency agreements such as the one with Bank of America."

According to the story, Bank of America and the Treasury designated subcontractors to perform at least some of the work. It is unclear how much of the $76.3 million has been paid to subcontractors. Halldin referred all questions about the contract to the Treasury Department.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wells Fargo opens tech-lending office in Raleigh

Pushing to lend to high-tech companies in the Research Triangle region, Wells Fargo has opened a "technology banking group" office in Raleigh, the lender said Thursday.

The location, which will serve the Carolinas, is Wells Fargo's 12th technology banking group office in the U.S.

Wells Fargo created the technology banking group in 2006 and has since opened similar offices across the country. The group serves four segments: life sciences, technology, "clean tech" and venture fund services.

The technology office is an expansion of a commercial lending office Wells Fargo was already operating in Raleigh.

Wells Fargo has named Matt Godwin, former chief financial officer of Williams Realty & Building Company in Raleigh, to head the new technology operation.

Godwin is a former Wells Fargo employee. He also was a senior auditor for the now-defunct accounting firm Arthur Andersen.