Saturday, September 06, 2008

Nice timing

An apparent lesson of the collapse of Silver State bank: if you're the son of a presidential candidate, and suspect that everything is about to go pear-shaped at your day job at a bank, but you want to get out without attracting attention -- tell everyone you're quitting to work on your Dad's campaign! --

[Wall Street Journal (subs. req;d)] Founded in 1996, Silver State specialized in construction and land-development loans to finance real-estate projects in Nevada and Arizona. In July 2007, Silver State raised about $30 million through an initial public stock offering. Its shares debuted at $20.

The business unraveled this year. By June 30, borrowers had fallen behind on about $252 million worth of loans, compared to about $11.5 million six months earlier, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The bank's capital ratios, which represent the bank's cushion to absorb losses, have dropped sharply.

Andy McCain's ties to Silver State date to 2006, when he became a director of Choice Bank, a small Scottsdale, Ariz., lender that Silver State acquired that year. Mr. McCain's family was an early investor in Choice, according to people familiar with the matter ... If Mr. McCain had remained on Silver State's board another four days, his position on the audit committee would have required him to sign off on the company's second-quarter financial statements.

Three weeks after Mr. McCain quit, Silver State had to revise those second-quarter numbers to reflect a loss of $72.3 million, which was larger than previously reported. It warned in the Aug. 15 regulatory filing of "uncertainty about the company's ability to continue as a going concern," a sign the bank's survival was in doubt.

Silver State said at the time its insurance carrier planned to cancel policies protecting Silver State's directors and executives from liability due to the bank's elevated risk profile, effective Oct. 7.

Mr. McCain's public role in his father's presidential campaign has been mostly limited to appearances at several events last month. A person close to Mr. McCain says he left Silver State's board because his busy schedule meant he wouldn't be able to devote enough time to the struggling bank.

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