Lending up, but bailout not reason

Business Materials 8 February 2009 13:37 (UTC +04:00)

Only a handful of Texas banks have accepted federal bailout money, but among those that have, lending has grown more slowly than among those that didn't, chron website reported.

Smaller, bailout-free banks boosted their lending, sometimes dramatically, during the fourth quarter of 2008, in part by drawing business away from larger institutions, according to data from SNL Financial, which tracks bank information.

"People are coming to us because they're not able to finance what they want to do at their bank," said Jim Sturgeon, chief executive of Founders Bank in Sugar Land, which reported loan growth of 31 percent from the third quarter to the fourth.

The pattern is much the same across the rest of the state.

Twelve Texas banks have accepted money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program so far, but none showed the double-digit loan growth of many smaller institutions like Founders, which has one location.

"The small community banks may be the ones that save the day," said Dan Bass, managing director of Carson Medlin, a Houston investment bank. "Right now they're seeing the best loans they've seen in years."

While government officials have called on banks to lend more, many larger institutions are reporting declines in their loan business. Dallas-based Comerica, for example, received $2.3 billion in TARP money in late October, yet its outstanding loans fell by more than 2 percent in the fourth quarter.

Other large bailout recipients, such as Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, also reported declines in their latest financial statements.

But in Texas, most TARP recipients are showing at least modest lending increases. Dallas-based Texas Capital Bank, which got $75 million under TARP last month, reported an 8 percent rise in fourth-quarter lending. Among Houston-area TARP participants, the leaders were Patriot Bank at more than 3 percent and Texas Community Bank of The Woodlands at 5 percent.