A company that took over a bunch of loans from the failed Tennessee Commerce Bank is taking to court Doug Mathews, the 104.5 The Zone radio show host and former University of Tennessee football coach. Sandton Capital, which is pursuing a similar claim against Bristol Development Group, is looking for about $1.2 million.
Local lawyers P.K. Bramlett and Robert Bramlett and peers from New York's Rosen Law Firm on Friday filed a putative class action against Tennessee Commerce Bancorp and four current or former top executives — Art Helf, Mike Sapp, Lamar Cox and Frank Perez. On behalf of lead plaintiff Carolyn Lynn, the attorneys say, among other things, that Tennessee Commerce's execs "knowingly or recklessly" made false statements about the bank's financial health and the state of its internal controls starting with their 2008 annual report.
"During the Class Period, defendants engaged in a scheme to deceive the market and a course of conduct that artificially inflated TNCC's share price and operated as a fraud or deceit on purchasers of TNCC shares by misrepresenting the Company's financial condition and business prospects," the complaint says. "The Individual Defendants' false and misleading statements had the intended effect and caused TNCC stock to trade at artificially inflated levels throughout the Class Period."
Download the suit by clicking here. Its filing is not altogether unexpected, but the big question is how — if they win the day — shareholders will be compensated. There's not much for the Tennessee Commerce holding company to scrounge up: Its shares (Ticker: TNCC) are actually still being traded but are worth a total of $2,445.
When Republic Bank & Trust executives in January struck a deal to buy the remnants of the failed Tennessee Commerce Bank, they talked about its potential as a growth platform in the Middle Tennessee area. But since then, they've unloaded or run off much of what they acquired: In the first four months under Republic ownership, Tennessee Commerce's loan book shrank from $99 million to $52 million. That number has been whittled down even more since, coming in at $46 million on Sept. 30, less than half the amount Republic bought in January.
Republic Bancorp, the Louisville lender that in January snapped up some Tennessee Commerce Bancorp assets and liabilities, reported its nice second-quarter profit growth Thursday morning. Its numbers included some details of the Tennessee Commerce situation, chief among them is word that — after shedding $20 million in loans in Q1 — it has unloaded more of the acquired local assets since March.
From Republic’s first-quarter report: “RB&T purchased approximately $99 million in loans with a fair value of approximately $73 million. Subsequent to the Acquisition Date, the FDIC agreed to repurchase approximately $20 million of these loans at a price of approximately $17 million.”
And from its Q2 earnings release: “Overall, the contractual amount of the loans purchased reduced from $79 million as of March 31, 2012 to $52 million as of June 30, 2012.”
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. officials have asked a Boston-based marketer of loans to unload almost $360 million of assets that used to belong to the late Tennessee Commerce Bancorp. DebtX says the loans, leases and participations are backed by various types of collateral located across the country.
SEE ALSO: Tennessee Commerce buyer ships batch of loans back to FDIC from April
As Tennessee Commerce Bank was unraveling at the seams last week prior to finally being shut down, executives were likely busy tying up loose ends. One of them involved a $15 million loan to a director, against which they took a $7 million loss reserve. A spokeswoman for the bank said she could not find anyone Monday to get details about the loan or the director to whom it was made. But the writedown speaks to the underwriting shortcomings — which were not confined to any single category of loans — that bedeviled Tennessee Commerce.
In the same filing detailing that writedown, Tennessee Commerce also said that director William McIness, a veteran of HCA and J.C. Bradford who had chaired its audit committee, stepped down last Friday — hours before regulators shut down the bank. The move came after the company had to tell investors not to rely on past financial statements and after accountants KraftCPAs withdrew their audit opinion.
And lastly, on a very different note: Now that the FDIC and the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions have taken care of their business, there's a suite at Bridgestone Arena on the market just in time for the Preds' playoff run.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS