After Stress Tests, Firms Look to Exit TARP

At least three large Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) participants are eyeing the exit door in the wake of positive results from the government-initiated stress tests. Still others are looking to get out from under TARP’s Capital Purchase Program (CPP) and the scrutiny and strict regulations that have become synonymous with executive compensation and any company expenses seen by the public and regulators as unnecessary. BB&T (MSDXP), which passed the stress test, received $3.13bn in November through TARP. The company said today it plans a repayment of all its preferred stock with the proceeds of a common stock issuance. American Express (AXP) also passed its stress test and said late last week it filed a request with the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to repay all of the $3.39bn of preferred shares issued to the Treasury. “We’ve always viewed CPP as a temporary program,”  chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault said in a media statement. On the same day Goldman Sachs Group‘s (GS) passing test results went public, firm executives said they believed Goldman met all requirements and would soon begin to repay the government’s $10bn investment. But not all firms looking to get out of TARP will leave on positive terms. Alliance Financial (ALNC), which in December received $26.92m, said today it received regulatory approval to redeem all the shares sold to the Treasury and it expects to close the transaction on Wednesday. Alliance volunteered to participate early in the program when regulators encouraged only well-capitalized, healthy banks to partner with the government and strengthen the banking industry, says president and CEO Jack Webb in a media statement today. “The program, however, has been dramatically altered and the resulting changes in the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding it have subjected participants to restrictions and regulatory burdens that place Alliance at a competitive disadvantage to financial institutions which do not participate in the program,” Webb says. “These changes inhibit the manner in which we operate our business and are not in the best interests of our customers, community and shareholders.” Company officials attribute Alliance’s solvency outside of repaid TARP funds in part to its 5.7% ratio of tangible common equity to tangible assets as of March-end and its $1.4bn in assets. Write to Diana Golobay. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.

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