Magazine article American Banker

Group Protesting MAF Deal Cites Fair-Lending Record

Magazine article American Banker

Group Protesting MAF Deal Cites Fair-Lending Record

Article excerpt

A Chicago activist group is trying to halt MAF Bancorp Inc.'s $101 million deal to buy Fidelity Bancorp Inc., saying MAF has a poor history of lending to black and Hispanic homebuyers.

In a letter last week to the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Woodstock Institute recommended that the regulator reject MAF's application to buy the $699 million-asset Fidelity, of Chicago, citing an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

But Allen H. Koranda, the chairman and chief executive officer at MAF, in Clarendon Hills, Ill., said that his company had yet to file its application with the OTS and that it might wait until resolution of the Justice Department's concerns before doing so. MAF announced in August that Justice was investigating its compliance with the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity acts.

"It takes 30 to 45 days to get the application ready to go to the OTS," Mr. Koranda said. "We're working to resolve the Department of Justice issue before submitting the application and we think we can."

Justice Department officials did not return calls seeking comment on the status of the investigation. OTS officials said only that all "relevant factors" would be considered in the decision to approve or reject the application.

Katy Jacob, a research communications and development associate at Woodstock, said an analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data showed that MAF's thrift subsidiary, Mid America Bank, made only 108 home loans to blacks and 564 to Hispanics in 2001. It made 4,174 home loans to whites, according to Ms. Jacob.

"We would have to think for their size and where they are located, they could do better," she said.

But Mr. Koranda contends that the percentage of loans to minorities, 13.9%, is actually pretty high and will be even higher when the 2002 data are tabulated.

This is the second time Woodstock has tried to block an acquisition by MAF. …

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