Daniel Gross

Treasury Aims to Raise $220 Million Auctioning Stakes in 7 TARP Banks

The central component of the TARP program was the Capital Purchase Program, in which the government bought preferred shares in hundreds of banks in 2008 and 2009. In all, CPP recipients took $204.9 billion public funds. Banks have returned $190.58 billion of that capital. Add in dividends ($11.68 billion), gains on the sale of Citigroup common stock ($6.85 billion), and funds received from the sale of warrants ($7.67 billion) and the CPP has turned a "profit" thus far of about $11.88 billion. (Here's the most recent TARP summary).

But scores of banks have yet to repay their capital. And rather than wait for smallish banks to scrape up the cash to buy back the shares, Treasury has also decided to auction off shares of some banks to the public. The upside: Treasury can accelerate the pace of TARP exits. The downside? In an auction, Treasury commits to accept whatever the market will pay. Which means it often winds up getting less for its stake than it put in. In March, Treasury auctioned stakes in six CPP recipients. It had paid $410.5 million for the stock, but received only $361.8 million in the auctions. A couple weeks ago, Treasury auctioned stakes in seven banks. All in, Treasury received $245 million; but it had originally paid $280.6 million for the stakes.

On Monday, Treasury announced that this week it will be auctioning positions in seven more institutions that have yet to repay their CPP funds. As follows:

Fidelity Southern Corporation (LION), based in Atlanta, Georgia, which took $43.8 million in December 2008.

Firstbank Corporation (FBMI), based in Alma, Michigan, which took $33 million in January 2009.

First Citizens Banc Corp. (FZCA), based in Sandusky, Ohio, which took $23.2 million in January 2009.

MetroCorp Bancshares (MCBI), based in Houston, Texas, which took $45 million in January 2009.

Peoples Bancorp of North Carolina (PEBK), based in Newton, North Carolina, which took $25 million in December 2008.

Pulaski Financial Corp. (PULB), based in St. Louis, Missouri, which took $32. 5 million in January 2009.

Southern First Bancshares (SFST), based in Greenville, South Carolina, which took $17.3 million in February 2009.

Taken together, Treasury paid nearly $220 million for its shares in these banks. If past performance is any guide to future performance, Treasury will likely close out these position at a loss.

Daniel Gross is economics editor at Yahoo! Finance.

Follow him on Twitter @grossdm; email him at grossdaniel11@yahoo.com.

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