Monday, May 25, 2009

Failure of BankUnited FSB ($12.8B Florida Bank)

The FDIC Friday voted to impose an emergency fee on member banks in order to replenish its insurance fund, Bloomberg reports. Earlier, the failure of BankUnited FSB, a Florida thrift with $12.8 billion in assets and $8.6 billion deposits, is a stark reminder the crisis in the banking sector is far from over. But it's also a reminder that deposits at FDIC-insured banks are safe, up to the $250,000 limit.

"There's going to be more bank failures, there's no question about it," says Dave Kansas, a contributing editor at The Wall Street Journal. "The FDIC is going to have a lot more work to do this year."

A private equity team has agreed to buy BankUnited's banking operations, and retail branches were scheduled to be open normal hours on Friday. But BankUnited's failure will cost the FDIC's insurance fund $4.9 billion, a pretty big hit considering the fund stood at $19 billion at the end of 2008.

"Bank deposit insurance is the bedrock of the financial system," says Kansas. "I cannot envision a scenario where [the Federal government] does not permit the FDIC to be fully flush."

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