12 CFR Appendix C to Part 225, Small Bank Holding Company and Savings and Loan Holding Company Policy Statement
In acting on applications filed under the Bank Holding Company Act, the Board has adopted, and continues to follow, the principle that bank holding companies should serve as a source of strength for their subsidiary banks. When bank holding companies incur debt and rely upon the earnings of their subsidiary banks as the means of repaying such debt, a question arises as to the probable effect upon the financial condition of the holding company and its subsidiary bank or banks.
The Board believes that a high level of debt at the parent holding company impairs the ability of a bank holding company to provide financial assistance to its subsidiary bank(s) and, in some cases, the servicing requirements on such debt may be a significant drain on the resources of the bank(s). For these reasons, the Board has not favored the use of acquisition debt in the formation of bank holding companies or in the acquisition of additional banks. Nevertheless, the Board has recognized that the transfer of ownership of small banks often requires the use of acquisition debt. The Board, therefore, has permitted the formation and expansion of small bank holding companies with debt levels higher than would be permitted for larger holding companies. Approval of these applications has been given on the condition that small bank holding companies demonstrate the ability to service acquisition debt without straining the capital of their subsidiary banks and, further, that such companies restore their ability to serve as a source of strength for their subsidiary banks within a relatively short period of time.
In the interest of continuing its policy of facilitating the transfer of ownership in banks without compromising bank safety and soundness, the Board has, as described below, adopted the following procedures and standards for the formation and expansion of small bank holding companies subject to this policy statement.
This policy statement applies only to bank holding companies with pro forma consolidated assets of less than $1 billion that (i) are not engaged in significant nonbanking activities either directly or through a nonbank subsidiary; (ii) do not conduct significant off-balance sheet activities (including securitization and asset management or administration) either directly or through a nonbank subsidiary; and (iii) do not have a material amount of debt or equity securities outstanding (other than trust preferred securities) that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Board may in its discretion exclude any bank holding company, regardless of asset size, from the policy statement if such action is warranted for supervisory purposes. 1 With the exception of section 4 (Additional Application Requirements for Expedited/Waived Processing), the policy statement applies to savings and loan holding companies as if they were bank holding companies.
While this policy statement primarily applies to the formation of small bank holding companies, it also applies to existing small bank holding companies that wish to acquire an additional bank or company and to transactions involving changes in control, stock redemptions, or other shareholder transactions. 2
2 The appropriate Reserve Bank should be contacted to determine the manner in which a specific situation may qualify for treatment under this policy statement.
The following guidelines must be followed on an ongoing basis for all organizations operating under this policy statement.
A. Reduction in parent company leverage: Small bank holding companies are to reduce their parent company debt consistent with the requirement that all debt be retired within 25 years of being incurred. The Board also expects that these bank holding companies reach a debt to equity ratio of .30:1 or less within 12 years of the incurrence of the debt. 3 The bank holding company must also comply with debt servicing and other requirements imposed by its creditors.
3 The term debt, as used in the ratio of debt to equity, means any borrowed funds (exclusive of short-term borrowings that arise out of current transactions, the proceeds of which are used for current transactions), and any securities issued by, or obligations of, the holding company that are the functional equivalent of borrowed funds.
Subordinated debt associated with trust preferred securities generally would be treated as debt for purposes of paragraphs 2.C., 3.A., 4.A.i., and 4.B.i. of this policy statement. A bank holding company, however, may exclude from debt an amount of subordinated debt associated with trust preferred securities up to 25 percent of the holding company's equity (as defined below) less goodwill on the parent company's balance sheet in determining compliance with the requirements of such paragraphs of the policy statement. In addition, a bank holding company subject to this policy statement that has not issued subordinated debt associated with a new issuance of trust preferred securities after December 31, 2005, may exclude from debt any subordinated debt associated with trust preferred securities until December 31, 2010. Bank holding companies subject to this policy statement also may exclude from debt until December 31, 2010, any subordinated debt associated with refinanced issuances of trust preferred securities originally issued on or prior to December 31, 2005, provided that the refinancing does not increase the bank holding company's outstanding amount of subordinated debt. Subordinated debt associated with trust preferred securities will not be included as debt in determining compliance with any other requirements of this policy statement.
In addition, notwithstanding any other provision of this policy statement and for purposes of compliance with paragraphs 2.C., 3.A., 4.A.i, and 4.B.i. of this policy statement, both a bank holding company that is organized in mutual form and a bank holding company that has made a valid election to be taxed under Subchapter S of Chapter 1 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code may exclude from debt subordinated debentures issued to the United States Department of the Treasury under (i) the Troubled Asset Relief Program established by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Division A of Public Law 110-343, 122 Stat. 3765 (2008), and (ii) the Small Business Lending Fund established by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, title IV of Public Law 111-240, 124 Stat. 2504 (2010).
The term equity, as used in the ratio of debt to equity, means the total stockholders' equity of the bank holding company as defined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. In determining the total amount of stockholders' equity, the bank holding company should account for its investments in the common stock of subsidiaries by the equity method of accounting.
Ordinarily the Board does not view redeemable preferred stock as a substitute for common stock in a small bank holding company. Nevertheless, to a limited degree and under certain circumstances, the Board will consider redeemable preferred stock as equity in the capital accounts of the holding company if the following conditions are met: (1) The preferred stock is redeemable only at the option of the issuer; and (2) the debt to equity ratio of the holding company would be at or remain below .30:1 following the redemption or retirement of any preferred stock. Preferred stock that is convertible into common stock of the holding company may be treated as equity.
B. Capital adequacy: Each insured depository subsidiary of a small bank holding company is expected to be well-capitalized. Any institution that is not well-capitalized is expected to become well-capitalized within a brief period of time.
C. Dividend restrictions: A small bank holding company whose debt to equity ratio is greater than 1.0:1 is not expected to pay corporate dividends until such time as it reduces its debt to equity ratio to 1.0:1 or less and otherwise meets the criteria set forth in §§ 225.14(c)(1)(ii), 225.14(c)(2), and 225.14(c)(7) of Regulation Y. 4
4 Dividends may be paid by small bank holding companies with debt to equity at or below 1.0:1 and otherwise meeting the requirements of §§ 225.14(c)(1)(ii), 225.14(c)(2), and 225.14(c)(7) if the dividends are reasonable in amount, do not adversely affect the ability of the bank holding company to service its debt in an orderly manner, and do not adversely affect the ability of the subsidiary banks to be well-capitalized. It is expected that dividends will be eliminated if the holding company is (1) not reducing its debt consistent with the requirement that the debt to equity ratio be reduced to .30:1 within 12 years of consummation of the proposal or (2) not meeting the requirements of its loan agreement(s).
Small bank holding companies formed before the effective date of this policy statement may switch to a plan that adheres to the intent of this statement provided they comply with the requirements set forth above.
In assessing applications or notices by organizations subject to this policy statement, the Board will continue to take into account a full range of financial and other information about the applicant, and its current and proposed subsidiaries, including the recent trend and stability of earnings, past and prospective growth, asset quality, the ability to meet debt servicing requirements without placing an undue strain on the resources of the bank(s), and the record and competency of management. In addition, the Board will require applicants to meet the following requirements:
A. Minimum down payment: The amount of acquisition debt should not exceed 75 percent of the purchase price of the bank(s) or company to be acquired. When the owner(s) of the holding company incurs debt to finance the purchase of the bank(s) or company, such debt will be considered acquisition debt even though it does not represent an obligation of the bank holding company, unless the owner(s) can demonstrate that such debt can be serviced without reliance on the resources of the bank(s) or bank holding company.
B. Ability to reduce parent company leverage: The bank holding company must clearly be able to reduce its debt to equity ratio and comply with its loan agreement(s) as set forth in paragraph 2A above.
Failure to meet the criteria in this section would normally result in denial of an application.
A. Expedited notices under §§ 225.14 and 225.23 of Regulation Y: A small bank holding company proposal will be eligible for the expedited processing procedures set forth in §§ 225.14 and 225.23 of Regulation Y if the bank holding company is in compliance with the ongoing requirements of this policy statement, the bank holding company meets the core requirements for all applicants noted above, and the following requirements are met:
i. The parent bank holding company has a pro forma debt to equity ratio of 1.0:1 or less.
ii. The bank holding company meets all of the criteria for expedited action set forth in §§ 225.14 or 225.23 of Regulation Y.
B. Waiver of stock redemption filing: A small bank holding company will be eligible for the stock redemption filing exception for well-capitalized bank holding companies contained in § 225.4(b)(6) if the following requirements are met:
i. The parent bank holding company has a pro forma debt to equity ratio of 1.0:1 or less.
ii. The bank holding company is in compliance with the ongoing requirements of this policy statement and meets the requirements of §§ 225.14(c)(1)(ii), 225.14(c)(2), and 225.14(c)(7) of Regulation Y.