Regulators Close Merced Based County Bank

February 7, 2009 12:35:04 AM PST
Regulators on Friday closed FirstBank Financial Services in Georgia and two California banks, Alliance Bank and County Bank, marking nine failures this year of federally insured institutions.                                   |   View FDIC Press Release   |

County Bank, Merced, California, was closed by the California Department of Financial Institutions, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Westamerica Bank, San Rafael, California, to assume all of the deposits of County Bank.

County Bank's 39 offices will reopen as branches of Westamerica Bank. County Bank branches that had Saturday hours will reopen tomorrow. County Bank's remaining branches will reopen on Monday. Depositors of County Bank will automatically become depositors of Westamerica Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of both banks should continue to use their existing branches until Westamerica Bank can fully integrate the deposit records of County Bank.

Over the weekend, depositors of County Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of February 2, 2009, County Bank had total assets of approximately $1.7 billion and total deposits of $1.3 billion. In addition to assuming all of the failed bank's deposits, including those from brokers, Westamerica Bank agreed to purchase all of County Bank's assets.

The FDIC and Westamerica Bank entered into a loss-share transaction. Westamerica Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-sharing arrangement is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The agreement also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers as they will maintain a banking relationship.

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-591-2820. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., PST; on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., PST; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., PST; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., PST. Interested parties can also visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/county.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund will be $135 million. Westamerica Bank's acquisition of all deposits was the "least costly" resolution for the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund compared to alternatives. County Bank is the ninth bank to fail in the nation this year, and the third in California.
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Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system. The FDIC insures deposits at the nation's 8,384 banks and savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to which they are exposed. The FDIC receives no federal tax dollars ? insured financial institutions fund its operations.

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