Magazine article American Banker

El Banco in Ga. Reopens under Peoples Umbrella

Magazine article American Banker

El Banco in Ga. Reopens under Peoples Umbrella

Article excerpt

Once again a hybrid community bank-money services business is operating in the Atlanta area using the name El Banco de Nuestra Communidad.

Many of the people who ran the first incarnation of El Banco are running the new one, but this time the business has a different parent: Peoples Holding Co. in Winder, Ga., which wants to extend its community banking services to a burgeoning local population of underbanked Hispanics.

Peoples bought the money services business of Banuestra Financial Corp. in late October with little fanfare. It consisted of 12 offices that offered check-cashing, remittances, and other financial services like prepaid cards and cash deposits. Banuestra had once used the El Banco handle but dropped it after a partnership with SunTrust Banks Inc. in Atlanta ended in 2007 and the Roswell, Ga., company lost its ability take deposits.

Now that it is part of the $433 million-asset Peoples, El Banco is accepting deposits again in the 12 offices. Peoples Holding plans to apply for a separate bank charter for El Banco in about six months.

Luz Urrutia, the chief executive officer of El Banco, who was the president and chief operating officer of Banuestra before the acquisition, said in an interview Friday that there is room to establish another 18 El Banco offices in Georgia. She said the company would consider doing so once a successful integration is completed.

After expanding in Georgia, she said, El Banco could consider expanding across the Southeast.

Neither Peoples nor Banuestra would disclose the price paid for the El Banco operation.

Chris Maddox, the chairman of Peoples Holding and the president and chief executive of its bank, said in an interview Tuesday that El Banco is already contributing a "nice income stream" to the banking company though not enough to make it profitable.

However, Mr. …

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