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Regulators shut 2 Ga. banks, 1 in Wash. state

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[May 21, 2011]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- Regulators shut two banks in Georgia and a smaller bank in Washington state Friday, lifting to 43 the number of U.S. bank failures this year in the wake of a gutted economy and mounds of soured loans.

The pace of closures has slowed, however, as the economy improves and banks work their way through the bad debt. By this time last year, regulators had closed 73 banks.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized Atlantic Southern Bank, based in Macon, Ga., with $741.9 million in assets; First Georgia Banking Co., based in Franklin, Ga., with $731 million in assets; and Summit Bank in Burlington, Wash., with $142.7 million in assets.

CertusBank, based in Easley, S.C., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of Atlantic Southern Bank and First Georgia Banking. Columbia State Bank, based in Tacoma, Wash., is assuming the assets and deposits of Summit Bank.

In addition, the FDIC and CertusBank agreed to share losses on $585.1 million of Atlantic Southern Bank's loans and other assets, and on $452.1 million of First Georgia Banking's assets. The agency and Columbia State Bank are sharing losses on $113.4 million of Summit Bank's assets.


The failures of Atlantic Southern Bank, First Georgia Banking and Summit Bank are expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $273.5 million, $156.5 million and $15.7 million, respectively.

Georgia has been one of the hardest-hit states for bank failures. Sixteen banks were shuttered in the state last year. The two shutdowns Friday brought to 12 the number of bank failures in Georgia this year.

California, Florida and Illinois also have seen large numbers of bank failures.

In 2010 regulators seized 157 banks, the most in a year since the savings-and-loan crisis two decades ago.

The FDIC has said that 2010 likely would mark the peak for bank failures.

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There were 140 bank failures in 2009, costing the insurance fund about $36 billion. The failures last year cost around $21 billion, a lower price tag because the banks that failed in 2010 were smaller on average. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force; only three were closed in 2007.

From 2008, the year the financial crisis struck, through 2010, bank failures cost the fund $76.8 billion. The deposit insurance fund fell into the red in 2009, and its deficit stood at $7.4 billion as of Dec. 31.

The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to total around $52 billion from 2010 through 2014.

Depositors' money -- insured up to $250,000 per account -- is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. That insurance cap was made permanent in the financial overhaul law enacted last July.

The number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem" list rose to 884 in the final quarter of last year from 860 three months earlier. The 884 troubled banks is the highest number since 1993, during the savings-and-loan crisis.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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