Mississippi's largest state-charged savings and loan association, closed for 14 months after claims of its insolvency and massive withdrawals threatened it and other financial institutions, reopened today "with a new name and a new aim."
Depositors Savings Association, resurrected from the rubble of the $210 million Bankers Trust Savings and Loan empire, opened quietly as a depositor-owned, federally-insured institution and appeared to sustain no traumatic setbacks on opening day.
Association officials said before the doors opened at the 34 offices across the state they were prepared for as much as $18 million to be withdrawn in the first month by depositors whose savings have been frozen since May 19, 1976.
The association has been in the hands of a state savings and loan conservator, retired mortgage banker Robert Warren of Jackson, since last June when an emergency session of the legislature shut down all state chartered, privately-insured institutions to stem a growing panic among the depositors in the state.
The financial crisis began May 7, 1976, when two Bankers Trust stockholders filed a lawsuit charging the association was insolvent and its funds had been mismanaged by association officers.
A Hinds County (Jackson) chancery court judge promptly placed the association into receivership on a Friday night. The next day, Bankers Trust officials posted a $80,000 bond, enabling them to reopen the institution the following Monday.
By the time Monday arrived, word of the lawsuit had spread across the state and when the institution opened for business, depositors lined up to withdraw their money. By the close of that day, more than $6 million had been renewed from the institution, forcing it to shut down.
Bankers Trust and more than 30 other state-chartered institutions were insured by a private firm, American Savings Insurance Company (ASIC). When the names of the ASIC-insured association spread and when depositors learned that ASIC was owned by the associations it insured, runs on those other insitutions were triggered.
In June 1976, after consulting with federal officials, Gov. Cliff Finch called an emergency legislative session which over a weekend shut down all privately insured associations and required them to meet certain requirements to reopen.
Many reopened only with letters of credit from banks & while most others had to wait until they received Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation coverage. A handfull still remain closed pending approva of their applications for federal insurance, while some smaller associations intend to liguidate.
The legislation requires all institutions to obtain federal insurance, merge with or be acquired by an institution with FSLIC coverage, or liquidate.
The legislation gave Warren unprecedented control over the state chartered savings and loan industry, providing the conservator's office with the power to help association reorganize, obtain federal insurance coverage and reopen.
By far his beggest headache was Bankers Trust. Shortly after an audit showed the association with a $29 million deficit, Warren proposed a massive reorganization plan which depositors, approved overwhelmingly.
The plan involved converting savings to stock so that the 67,000 depositors became stockholders of the association. With depositors approval, Warren converted $20 of every $100 in deposits to preferred stock, leaving the other $80 on withdrawable deposit. Each depositor receives one share of stock per dollar converted.
Warren calculate that $13.50 of each $20 converted converted was necessary to cover the $29 million in losses and $6.50 was needed to recapitalize the association and create the $16 million net worth needed to obtain FSLIC coverage.
In the past year that Warren has been at the helm, he and his assistants have sold $20 million worth of Bankers Trust holdings and have put another $10 million worth of holdings up for sale. For example, Warren has sold all but 84 of the 993 apartment units and numerous land developments and office buildings owned across the state by Bankers Trust, many of the sales being made above appraised value and at a profit to the association.
He also reduced the number of branches from 53 to 34 and sliced the payroll from 350 employees to 100.
"We've got a new name and a new aim," Warren said this week in announcing approval of FSLIC coverage. "And the new aim is to make money for the depositors."
Warren, who has become somewhat of a hero here, has argued depositors to leave their money in the association, telling them they will not find a safer or more profitable place for it.
Although the institution lost $3.3 million in the 12 months prior to Warren's appointment, it had a profit in excess of $500,000 in the first six months after he took over and association officials expect the profit to teach $1.15 million by the end of this calendare year.
The new president of the revitalized association, William Crickenberger said today his won survey last week indicated that 96 per cent of the depositors with certificates that matured in the past year wanted to renew the certificates.
In addition, Warrens said he had received word from only five depositors, three from out of state, that tey want to sell their stock after the association reopens, while he has been contacted by 40 persons wanting to buy stock when it becomes available.
Meanwhile civil and criminal litigation stemming from the collapse of Bankers Trust is expected to pick up in tempo now that the association has reopened. There has been a spate of suits filed by and against former Bankers Trust stockholders and officers as well several former Bankers Trust officials' have been indicted in the past year.