Whitney Holding to sell $180 million in nonperforming loans
Whitney Holding Corp., which does banking in the Gulf Coast region, will sell roughly $180 million of nonperforming loans, mostly backed by commercial and residential property in Florida. The company's subsidiary, Whitney National Bank, has been in operation since 1883 and conducts community banking in Houston, Texas; Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The bank expects to $100 million in proceeds from the sale, which should increase its provision for credit losses by $65 million in the fourth quarter. Fifth Third Bank in New York unloaded $228 million in nonperforming loans in the third quarter to roughly 44% of what the loans were originally worth. In the third quarter, Whitney reported a $29 million net loss, or $0.34 per share, down from a $30 million loss from a year ago. The bank said it would also put another $100 million in troubled loans up for sale in the next quarter and expects to be profitable again in 2011. "Although the challenges of the most recent credit cycle continued this quarter, we have gained greater clarity and an increased confidence about where we are today,” said John Hope, chairman and CEO of Whitney. He added that third-quarter developments such as the Gulf oil spill, a still weakened recovery and the threat of another downturn have all been addressed. Of the $180 million nonperforming loan sale, 85% are serviced in the Florida markets and include the properties, undeveloped land, retail developments and lots. It will reduce the bank's Florida-serviced nonperforming loans to a $50 million balance from $203 million as of Sept. 30. "Once all sales are completed, we expect to see significant declines in not only nonperforming assets and classified loans, but also material declines in our future provisions for loan losses and our problem asset collection expenses," Hope said. "These transactions will dramatically accelerate our return to profitability in 2011." Write to Jon Prior.