John Hanson Bancorp., parent of John Hanson Savings Bank, said yesterday it has failed to raise $10 million that it needs to meet federal requirements for capital, the cash and assets that must be held on reserve to protect the federal deposit insurance fund from losses.
The Beltsville thrift had promised federal regulators in its plan for raising new capital that it would have the money by the end of the year, but a spokesman said yesterday that John Hanson ran out of time to raise the money by selling debt in its newly formed holding company.
Meanwhile, federal regulators have rejected a plan submitted by Trustbank Savings Bank, the eighth-largest thrift in Virginia, that outlined how the Tysons Corner thrift would raise its capital levels to the required minimums. Trustbank is trying to submit another capital plan, but in the meantime, the thrift will be subject to regulatory approval for all new loans and investments.
The failure of John Hanson and Trustbank to raise necessary capital is the latest evidence of the tough economic environment for savings and loans, which must raise capital in order to continue operating independently. The slowdown in the local real estate market has hurt the profitability of many area thrifts, making it difficult for them to find investors willing to provide fresh capital.
It is unclear what ultimately will happen to area thrifts that are unable to meet capital standards. Some may ultimately be able to raise the much-needed money, while others may be taken over by the federal government or merged. Federal regulators already have said publicly that seven thrifts in Virginia and six in Maryland have been targeted for government takeover, but the federal Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) has refused to identify those thrifts.
John Hanson spokesman Jeff C. Wahlbrink said the thrift, which operates 15 branches in suburban Maryland, will continue its efforts to raise the $10 million it needs.
"We've notified regulators that we won't meet our deadline, and at this point, it's really their move," Wahlbrink said. "They know our situation and there are other institutions out there that don't have accepted capital plans that are still operating."
Trustbank, which operates 38 branches in Northern Virginia and has $1.5 billion in assets, is just such an institution. Without an approved capital plan, the thrift has been severely limited by regulators in the kind of business it can do. Trustbank said new mortgage loans and secured home-equity lines of credit will be the only loans that it can make without prior approval from the OTS.
All other loans, including commercial real estate loans, automobile loans and college education loans, must be approved by the OTS before being granted. Trustbank also is prohibited from investing money in its own subsidiaries or any other assets without regulators' say so.
Trustbank Chairman William L. Walde could not be reached for comment on the new restrictions, which were outlined in a filing with the OTS. According to the filing, Trustbank is $77.6 million short of meeting the capital guidelines.
Before the passage of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act last year, S&Ls did not need to have a significant amount of capital to be considered healthy. Moreover, thrifts were allowed to be more liberal in deciding what items on their books could be counted as capital, and they often included the value of "goodwill," which among other things reflects the value of a thrift's good name.
But the passage of the S&L reform legislation in August 1989 toughened many of the capital requirements. S&L owners now must put up $1.50 of their own money for every $100 in investments they make with depositors' money, and goodwill and similar items can no longer be counted as capital. The law requires that capital grow to 3 percent of thrift assets by 1995.
Trustbank Savings has been operating below the $1.50 minimum throughout 1990, and it has been cutting expenses and restricting growth in an effort to meet the federally mandated minimum. According to a plan filed with the OTS, Trustbank had hoped to raise the needed cash by generating earnings, making less risky loans, reducing its overall size and getting an outside investor to provide the thrift with more money.
However, the OTS rejected the plan on Dec. 14, saying it was unacceptable. Few S&Ls have been able to raise money from outside investors, and Trustbank has been losing money in recent quarters because, like many other S&Ls in the area, it has lost millions of dollars on commercial real estate loans.