Magazine article American Banker

Huntington: 4Q Charge Covers SEC Investigation

Magazine article American Banker

Huntington: 4Q Charge Covers SEC Investigation

Article excerpt

Huntington Bancshares Inc., which took another charge in the fourth quarter related to a Securities and Exchange Commission probe of its accounting, said Friday that it is adequately reserved to deal with a possible civil penalty.

The Columbus, Ohio, company's $6.5 million fourth-quarter charge raised the amount set aside last year to deal with the issue to $13.6 million. The $32.6 billion-asset Huntington said its fourth-quarter profits fell 2.4% from a year earlier, to $91.1 million.

The SEC's ongoing investigation is examining how Huntington accounted for auto leases on its balance sheet; it restated how it accounted for them three times in 2003. No fine has been announced.

"We are continuing to have ongoing discussions with the SEC staff," Thomas E. Hoaglin, Huntington's chairman, president, and chief executive officer, said in a conference call following the earnings report.

He also reiterated that Huntington expects to enter "formal supervisory agreements" with the Federal Reserve System and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Huntington had said in November that the two agencies were looking at the broader issues of accounting, procedures, and corporate governance.

When an analyst asked whether the Fed and the OCC would impose fines, Mr. Hoaglin would say only, "We believe we have that well factored into our projection."

Huntington did not give an update on its deal for Unizan Financial Corp. of Canton. The $587 million deal was announced in January 2004, but the regulatory tussles forced Huntington to amend the agreement in November to extend the closing date by a year, to January 2006. …

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