Regional Gulf Coast banks, particularly those operating as portfolio lenders, are already suffering.Yet while most of the press on the environmental damage has focused on Louisiana, the real damage for banking is likely to be located among community banks in Florida. Barron's recently identified three "top" Gulf Coast banks: MidSouth Bancorp, Iberia Bank, and Teche Holding. Those would not be the only institutions at risk. Regions has always been an active partner with real estate developers in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. BB&T had a big presence in Florida. This year, it added to that when it acquired the assets Colonial Bank. Synovus owns scores of small town banks throughout the area.
Today's Wall Street Journal identifies Regions as the bank most vulnerable to the downstream fallout from the spill. Those are all the kinds of big banks that merit attention in the pages of a national newspaper. It is one thing to say that Regions is facing a challenge. It is another thing to say that readers should be aware of problems at Cortez Community Bank. Bauer Financial, a firm that focuses on the soundness of financial institutions, says that scores of Florida banks are already in trouble. Last week, it gave a "zero" rating to 51 banks in Florida, out of the 280 institutions that are headquartered in the state. That, as much as anything, is not just about the spill. It is a testament to the broader struggle among banks in the entire area. The spill may only be the final act in a series of disappointing quarters. Here are a just a few of their zero star institutions:
- Beach Community Bank (Ft. Walton Beach, Florida)
- Bayside Savings Bank (Port St. Joe, Florida)
- Coastal Community Bank (Panama City, Florida)
- Fidelity Bank of Florida (Merritt Island, Florida)
- Gulf Coast Community Bank (Pensacola, Florida)
- TIB Bank (Naples, Florida)
By contrast, there is only one "zero star" bank in Louisiana (Central Progressive Bank), three in Alabama and none in Mississippi.