BOA and Countrywide - Oh, I bet the Feds will let this slide...

From WSJ

On potential obstacle to the deal is a Federal law which prohibits a bank-holding company from controlling more than 10% of U.S. deposits after acquiring another bank.

But the law includes an obscure caveat: The 10% limit doesn't apply to federally chartered thrifts, meaning a bank-holding company may control more than 10% of deposits in the U.S. following a thrift acquisition. Since a Countrywide subsidiary called Countrywide Bank is a federally insured thrift, that may give Bank of America room to maneuver around the deposit cap.

Bank of America is the only bank that has ever neared the 10% deposit cap. Many seasoned banking attorneys were not familiar with the caveat, as no bank has ever tried to acquire a thrift to vault above the 10% limit.

No doubt the Federal Reserve was a behind the scenes supporter of this transaction. A collapse of Countrywide with a $1.5 trillion dollar servicing portfolio would have been a disaster.

Posted on January 10, 2008 and filed under Finance.