A group of Washington business people and former government officials is organizing a new bank to specialize in international banking and the financing of small, high- technology companies.
Webb C. Hayes IV, senior vice president and head of the corporate banking group at Riggs National Bank, will be the first president of Palmer National Bank, which is expected to open its doors in May.
In addition to normal commercial banking operations, Hayes said the bank intends to specialize in such operations as placing debt and equity issues for companies and other financial advisory services.
The bank, which has received a charter from the comptroller of the currency, will have $3 million in capital, all of it raised privately. The chief investor is Harvey D. McLean, a Dallas real estate developer. Stefan A. Halper, who will resign his current post of deputy assistant secretary of State in April, will be chairman. Halper said all directors are investors in the bank.
Although the District, by nearly all counts, has more banks than it needs, Hayes, 34, said Palmer will fill a niche in local lending that he said is not being well-serviced. He said the small growth companies, with revenues under $50 million a year, generally are being served by junior lending officers at the area's bigger banks and that senior officers at Palmer will help with banking needs and other financing needs.
Furthermore, Halper said, many international financial packages are put togther in Washington but usually financed out of town. Halper said he and McLean, who will be vice chairman of the board, came up with the idea for a bank like Palmer during a 1980 trade mission to China.
Hayes said the bank intends to set up partnerships overseas to facilitate placing customer debt and stock offerings, although the bank itself will not be able to underwrite (that is, buy securities from customers and sell them to the public) because federal laws prohibit commercial banks from engaging in what are considered investment banking activities.
Halper said the members of the board have wide-ranging contacts that will aid the bank in searching out both international and domestic business.
Hayes said the bank expects to earn much of its income from fees received for placement and advisory activities. Traditionally, banks have earned their income from interest received on loans, but in recent years, as lending has become less profitable, banks have searched for ways to earn fee income.
"We expect the bank to be profitable soon," McLean said.