Baseball's Ryan Family: Start-Up Conditions Ripe

By Fajt, Marissa | American Banker, March 24, 2009 | Go to article overview

Baseball's Ryan Family: Start-Up Conditions Ripe


Fajt, Marissa, American Banker


Byline: Marissa Fajt

Building banks is almost as much a sport for Nolan Ryan's family as playing baseball.

The family, which ran two banks that it later sold, is set to open R Bank in Round Rock, Texas, in June.

Reese Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher's 33-year-old son, is to be the chairman, and he said that, unlike the family's last two ventures, the plan is to keep this bank for the long term.

(Nolan Ryan is to be a director, as will Reese's older brother, Reid.)

R Bank has $12 million in capital, a clean balance sheet, an experienced management team and few aggressive competitors in this environment - all of which should help it flourish despite the weakening economy, Reese Ryan said.

"I don't think our timing could be any better," he said. "There have been a lot of banks that came into the market, and they were undercutting each other and battling for market share. That ran its course, and you see where it went. The opportunity is great right now because there aren't a lot of people out there making loans they shouldn't make or paying too much for deposits."

Industry insiders who work with start-ups agreed that new banks have the benefit of clean balance sheets and, lately, more risk-averse competitors.

But young institutions also must work harder to grow and become profitable, given the economic turmoil, they said.

"You will burn through more capital, but the pluses more than offset the minuses, if you can get capital," said Lee Bradley, a managing director at the Dallas investment bank and consulting firm Commerce Street Capital LLC.

John Blaylock, an associate director at Sheshunoff & Co. Investment Banking, said the economy's slowdown makes it tougher to establish roots.

"This is going to be a difficult market to get started in," he said. "There isn't a lot of activity out there like there was several years ago."

"But it's also a good time because you don't have any legacy issues," he said. "So you can come out of the blocks with plenty of capital and a fresh team and capture business" from other banks that are struggling with loan troubles.

Regulators and investors have become more cautious, making it significantly more difficult to open a bank.

So far this year a dozen banks have been opened around the country, two in Texas, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

This is roughly one-third as many as were opened to this point a year earlier.

For all of last year, roughly 100 banks were opened nationwide, including six in Texas. …

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