Magazine article American Banker

Bush FDIC Pick Said near Sale of His Texas Bank

Magazine article American Banker

Bush FDIC Pick Said near Sale of His Texas Bank

Article excerpt

The Texas banker that President Bush is expected to name chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. may be close to clearing the final obstacle to nomination: the sale of his $369 million-asset bank, industry sources said Monday.

Don Powell, president and chief executive officer of First National Bank of Amarillo, has reportedly been trying to find a buyer since emerging in early January as the likely nominee for the FDIC chairmanship.

Mr. Powell did not return repeated phone calls, and others at his bank would not comment. But community bankers in the state fingered Wells Fargo & Co. as First National's probable buyer. Community bankers in Amarillo said that such a deal would make sense because Wells Fargo has no presence in the town but has opened offices in neighboring areas. Wells and its predecessor, Norwest Corp., snapped up 35 community banks in Texas between 1994 and today. Amarillo is considered an attractive market because it is the sole large stop on Interstate I-40 between Oklahoma and New Mexico.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo declined to comment.

All FDIC board members must divest bank holdings before being sworn in, but for Mr. Powell that would mean more than simply divesting some stock. As First National's majority owner, he has to sell the bank. Sources said it might be unwise for him to hold off on selling until he is formally nominated, because prospective buyers would know that he would have to sell First National quickly.

But some sources speculated that Mr. Powell's nomination may be delayed by more than just the sale of his bank. A source speaking on condition of anonymity said many Texas bankers have heard that President Bush is holding up the nomination because he was displeased that Mr. Powell scheduled courtesy calls with national trade groups, and that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm confirmed Mr. …

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