7500 - FRB Regulations
§ 225.132 Acquisition of assets.
(a) From time to time questions have arisen as to whether and under what circumstances a bank holding company engaged in nonbank activities, directly or indirectly through a subsidiary, pursuant to section 4(c)(8) of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (12 U.S.C. 1843(c)(8)), may acquire the assets and employees of another company, without first obtaining Board approval pursuant to section 4(c)(8) and the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.4(b)).
(b) In determining whether Board approval is required in connection with the acquisition of assets, it is necessary to determine (a) whether the acquisition is made in the ordinary course of business1 or (b) whether it constitutes the acquisition, in whole or in part, 12-29-12>of a going concern.2
(c) The following examples illustrate transactions where prior Board approval will generally be required:
(1) The transaction involves the acquisition of all or substantially all of the assets of a company, or a subsidiary, division, department or office thereof.
(2) The transaction involves the acquisition of less than "substantially all" of the assets of a company, or a subsidiary, division, department or office thereof, the operations of which are being terminated or substantially discontinued by the seller, but such asset acquisition is significant in relation to the size of the same line of nonbank activity of the holding company (e.g., consumer finance, mortgage banking, data processing). For purposes of this interpretation, an acquisition would generally be presumed to be significant if the book value of the nonbank assets being acquired exceeds 50 percent of the book value of the nonbank assets of the holding company or nonbank subsidiary comprising the same line of activity.
(3) The transaction involves the acquisition of assets for resale and the sale of such assets is not a normal business activity of the acquiring holding company.
(4) The transaction involves the acquisition of the assets of a company, or a subsidiary, division, department or office thereof, and a major purpose of the transaction is to hire some of the seller's principal employees who are expert, skilled and experienced in the business of the company being acquired.
(d) In some cases it may be difficult, due to the wide variety of circumstances involving possible acquisition of assets, to determine whether such acquisitions require prior Board approval. Bank holding companies are encouraged to contact their local Reserve bank for guidance where doubt exists as to whether such an acquisition is in the ordinary course of business or an acquisition, in whole or in part, of a going concern.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.132]
§ 225.133 Computation of amount invested in foreign corporations under general consent procedures.
For text of this interpretation, see § 211.111 of this subchapter.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.133]
§ 225.134 Escrow arrangements involving bank stock resulting in a violation of the bank holding company act.
(a) In connection with a recent application to become a bank holding company, the Board considered a situation in which shares of a bank were acquired and then placed in escrow by the applicant prior to the Board's approval of the application. The facts indicated that the applicant company had incurred debt for the purpose of acquiring bank shares and immediately after the purchase the shares were transferred to an unaffiliated escrow agent with instructions to retain possession of the shares pending Board action on the company's application to become a bank holding company. The escrow agreement provided that, if the applicant were approved by the Board, the escrow agent was to return the shares to the applicant company; and, if the application were denied, the escrow agent was to deliver the shares to the applicant company's shareholders upon their assumption of debt originally incurred by the applicant in the acquisition of the bank shares. In addition, the escrow agreement provided that, while the shares were held in escrow, the applicant could not exercise voting or any other ownership rights with respect to those shares.
(b) On the basis of the above facts, the Board concluded that the company had violated the prior approval provisions of section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act ("Act") at the time that it made the initial acquisition of bank shares and that, for purposes of the Act, the company continued to control those shares in violation of the Act. In view of these 12-29-12>findings, individuals and bank holding companies should not enter into escrow arrangements of the type described herein, or any similar arrangement, without securing the prior approval of the Board, since such action could constitute a violation of the Act.
(c) While the above represents the Board's conclusion with respect to the particular escrow arrangement involved in the proposal presented, the Board does not believe that the use of an escrow arrangement would always result in a violation of the Act. For example, it appears that a transaction whereby bank shares are placed in escrow pending Board action on an application would not involve a violation of the Act so long as title to such shares remains with the seller during the pendency of the application; there are no other indicia that the applicant controls the shares held in escrow; and, in the event of a Board denial of the application, the escrow agreement provides that the shares would be returned to the seller.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.134]
[Source: 41 Fed. Reg. 9859, March 8, 1976; 41 Fed. Reg. 12009, March 23, 1976]
Escrow arrangements involving bank stock resulting in a violation of the Bank Holding Company Act. On February 26, 1976, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issued an interpretation (12 C.F.R. Part 250--Miscellaneous Interpretations) finding that the manner in which a company structured an escrow arrangement involving bank stock resulted in a violation of the Bank Holding Company Act:
Escrow arrangements involving bank stock resulting in a violation of the Bank Holding Company Act. In connection with a recent application to become a bank holding company, the Board considered a situation in which shares of a bank were acquired and then placed in escrow by the applicant prior to the Board's approval of the application. The facts indicated that the applicant company had incurred debt for the purpose of acquiring bank shares and immediately after the purchase the shares were transferred to an unaffiliated escrow agent with instructions to retain possession of the shares pending Board action on the company's application to become a bank holding company. The escrow agreement provided that, if the application were approved by the Board, the escrow agent was to return the shares to the applicant company; and, if the application were denied, the escrow agent was to deliver the shares to the applicant company's shareholders upon their assumption of debt originally incurred by the applicant in the acquisition of the bank shares. In addition, the escrow agree-ment provided that, while the shares were held in escrow, the applicant could not exercise voting or any other ownership rights with respect to those shares.
On the basis of the above facts, the Board concluded that the company had violated the prior approval provisions of section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act ("Act") at the time that it made the initial acquisition of bank shares and that, for purposes of the Act, the company continued to control those shares in violation of the Act. In view of these findings individuals and bank holding companies should not enter into escrow arrangements of the type described herein, or any similar arrangement, without securing the prior approval of the Board, since such action could constitute a violation of the Act.
While the above represents the Board's conclusion with respect to the particular escrow arrangement involved in the proposal presented, the Board does not believe that the use of an escrow arrangement would always result in a violation of the Act. For example, it appears that a transaction whereby bank shares are placed in escrow pending Board action on an application would not involve a violation of the Act so long as title to such shares remains with the seller during the pendency of the application; there are no other indicia that the applicant controls the shares held in escrow; and, in the event of a Board denial of the application, the escrow agreement provides that the shares would be returned to the seller.
§ 225.136 Utilization of Foreign Subsidiaries to Sell Long-Term Debt Obligations in Foreign Markets and to Transfer the Proceeds to Their United States Parent(s) for Domestic Purposes.
For text of this interpretation, see § 211.112 of this subchapter.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.136]
§ 225.137 Acquisitions of shares pursuant to section 4(c)(6) of the Bank Holding Company Act.
(a) The Board has received a request for an interpretation of section 4(c)(6) of the Bank Holding Company Act ("Act")1 in connection with a proposal under which a number of bank holding companies would purchase interests in an insurance company to be formed for the purpose of underwriting or reinsuring credit life and credit accident and health insurance sold in connection with extensions of credit by the stockholder bank holding companies and their affiliates.
(b) Each participating holding company would own no more than 5 percent of the outstanding voting shares of the company. However, the investment of each holding company would be represented by a separate class of voting security, so that each stockholder would own 100 percent of its respective class. The participating companies would execute a formal "Agreement Among Stockholders" under which each would agree to use its best efforts at all times to direct or recommend to customers and clients the placement of their life, accident and health insurance directly or indirectly with the company. Such credit-related insurance placed with the company would be identified in the records of the company as having been originated by the respective stockholder. A separate capital account would be maintained for each stockholder consisting of the original capital contribution increased or decreased from time to time by the net profit or loss resulting from the insurance business attributable to each stockholder. Thus, each stockholder would receive a return on its investment based upon the claims experience and profitability of the insurance business that it had itself generated. Dividends declared by the board of directors of the company would be payable to each stockholder only out of the earned surplus reflected in the respective stockholder's capital account.
(c) It has been requested that the Board issue an interpretation that section 4(c)(6) of the Act provides an exemption under which participating bank holding companies may acquire such interests in the company without prior approval of the Board.
(d) On the basis of a careful review of the documents submitted, in light of the purposes and provisions of the Act, the Board has concluded that section 4(c)(6) of the Act is inapplicable to this proposal and that a bank holding company must obtain the approval of the Board before participating in such a proposal in the manner described. The Board's conclusion is based upon the following considerations:
(1) Section 2(a)(2)(A) of the Act provides that a company is deemed to have control over a second company if it owns or controls "25 per centum or more of any class of voting securities" of the second company. In the case presented, the stock interest of each participant would be evidenced by a different class of stock and each would, accordingly, own 100 percent of a class of voting securities of the company. Thus, each of the stockholders would be deemed to "control" the company and prior Board approval would be required for each stockholder's acquisition of stock in the company.
The Board believes that this application of section 2(a)(2)(A) of the Act is particularly appropriate on the facts presented here. The company is, in practical effect, a conglomeration of separate business ventures each owned 100 percent by a stockholder the value of whose economic interest in the company is determined by reference to the profits and losses attributable to its respective class of stock. Furthermore, it is the Board's opinion that this application of section 2(a)(2)(A) is not inconsistent with section 4(c)(6). Even assuming that section 4(c)(6) is intended to refer to all outstanding voting shares, and not merely the outstanding shares of a particular class of securities, section 4(c)(6) must be viewed as permitting ownership of 5 percent of a company's voting stock only when that ownership does not constitute "control" as otherwise defined in the Act. For example, it is entirely possible that a company could exercise a controlling influence over the management and policies of a second company, and thus "control" that company under the Act's definitions, even though it held less than 5 percent of the voting stock of the second company. To view section 4(c)(6) as an unqualified exemption for holdings of less than 5 percent would thus create a serious gap in the coverage of the Act.
(2) The Board believes that section 4(c)(6) should properly be interpreted as creating an exemption from the general prohibitions in section 4 on ownership of stock in nonbank companies only for passive investments amounting to not more than 5 percent of a company's outstanding stock; and that the exemption was not intended to allow a group of holding companies, through concerted action, to engage in an activity as entrepreneurs. Section 4 of the Act, of course, prohibits not only owning stock in nonbank companies, but engaging in activities other than banking or those activities permitted by the Board under section 4(c)(8) as being closely related to banking. Thus, if a holding company may be deemed to be engaging in an activity through the medium of a company in which it owns less than 5 percent of the voting stock it may nevertheless require Board approval, despite the section 4(c)(6) exemption.
(e) To accept the argument that section 4(c)(6) is an unqualified grant of permission to a bank holding company to own 5 percent of the shares of any nonbanking company, irrespective of the nature or extent of the holding company's participation in the affairs of the nonbanking company would, in the Board's view, create the potential for serious and widespread evasion of the Act's controls over nonbanking activities. Such a construction would allow a group of 20 bank holding companies--or even a single bank holding company and one more nonbank companies--to engage in entrepreneurial joint ventures in businesses prohibited to bank holding companies, a result the Board believes to be contrary to the intent of Congress.
(f) In this proposal, each of the participating stockholders must be viewed as engaging in the business of insurance underwriting. Each stockholder would agree to channel to the company the insurance business it generates, and the value of the interest of each stockholder would be determined by reference to the profitability of the business generated by that stockholder itself. There is no sharing or pooling among stockholders of underwriting risks assumed by the company, and profit or loss from investments is allocated on the basis of each bank holding company's allocable underwriting profit or loss. The interest of each stockholder is thus clearly that of an entrepreneur rather than that of an investor.
(g) Accordingly, on the basis of the factual situation before the Board, and for the reasons summarized above, the Board has concluded that section 4(c)(6) of the Act cannot be interpreted to exempt the ownership of 5 percent of the voting stock of a company under the circumstances described, and that a bank holding company wishing to become a stockholder in a company under this proposal would be required to obtain the Board's approval to do so.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.137]
[Source: 42 Fed. Reg. 1263, January 6, 1977, effective December 22, 1976, as amended at 42 Fed. Reg. 2951, January 14, 1977]
§ 225.138 Statement of policy concerning divestitures by bank holding companies.
(a) From time to time the Board of Governors receives requests from companies subject to the Bank Holding Company Act, or other laws administered by the Board, to extend time periods specified either by statute or by Board order for the divestiture of assets held or activities engaged in by such companies. Such divestiture requirements may arise in a number of ways. For example, divestiture may be ordered by the Board in connection with an acquisition found to have been made in violation of law. In other cases the divestiture may be pursuant to a statutory requirement imposed at the time an amendment to the Act was adopted, or it may be required as a result of a foreclosure upon collateral held by the company or a bank subsidiary in connection with a debt previously contracted in good faith. Certain divestiture periods may be extended in the discretion of the Board, but in other cases the Board may be without statutory authority, or may have only limited authority, to extend a specified divestiture period.
(b) In the past, divestitures have taken many different forms, and the Board has followed a variety of procedures in enforcing divestiture requirements. Because divestitures may occur under widely disparate factual circumstances, and because such forced dispositions may have the potential for causing a serious adverse economic impact upon the divesting company, the Board believes it is important to maintain a large measure of flexibility in dealing with divestitures. For these reasons, there can be no fixed rule as to the type of divestiture that will be appropriate in all situations. For example, where divestiture has been ordered to terminate a control relationship created or maintained in violation of the Act, it may be necessary to impose conditions that will assure that the unlawful relationship has been fully terminated and that it will not arise in the future. In other circumstances, however, less stringent conditions may be appropriate.
(1) Avoidance of Delays in Divestitures. Where a specific time period has been fixed for accomplishing divestiture, the affected company should endeavor and should be encouraged to complete the divestiture as early as possible during the specific period. There will generally be substantial advantages to divesting companies in taking steps to plan for and accomplish divestitures well before the end of the divestiture period. For example, delays may impair the ability of the company to realize full value for the divested assets, for as the end of the divestiture period approaches the "forced sale" aspect of the divestiture may lead potential buyers to withhold firm offers and to bargain for lower prices. In addition, because some prospective purchasers may themselves require regulatory approval to acquire the divested property, delay by the divesting company may--by leaving insufficient time to obtain such approvals--have the effect of narrowing the range of prospective purchases. Thus, delay in planning for divestiture may increase the likelihood that the company will seek an extension of the time for divestiture if difficulty is encountered in securing a purchaser, and in certain situations, of course, the Board may be without statutory authority to grant extensions.
(2) Submission and Approval of Divestiture Plans. When a divestiture requirement is imposed, the company affected should generally be asked to submit a divestiture plan promptly for review and approval by the Reserve Bank or the Board. Such a requirement may be imposed pursuant to the Board's authority under section 5(b) of the Bank Holding Company Act to issue such orders as may be necessary to enable the Board to administer and carry out the purposes of the Act and prevent evasions thereof. A divestiture plan should be as specific as possible, and should indicate the manner in which divestiture will be accomplished--for example, by a bulk sale of the assets to a third party, by "spinoff" or distribution of shares to the shareholders of the divesting company, or by termination of prohibited activities. In addition, the plan should specify the steps the company expects to take in effecting the divestiture and assuring its completeness, and should indicate the time schedule for taking such steps. In appropriate circumstances, the divestiture plan should make provision for assuring that "controlling influence" relationships, such as management or financial interlocks, will not continue to exist.
(3) Periodic Progress Reports. A company subject to divestiture requirement should generally be required to submit regular periodic reports detailing the steps it has taken to effect divestiture. Such a requirement may be imposed pursuant to the Board's authority under section 5(b) of the Bank Holding Company Act, referred to above, as well as its authority under section 5(c) of the Act to require reports for the purpose of keeping the Board informed as to whether the Act and Board regulations and orders thereunder are being complied with. Reports should set forth in detail such matters as the identities of potential buyers who have been approached by the company, the dates of discussions with potential buyers and the identities of the individuals involved in such discussions, the terms of any offers received, and the reasons for rejecting any offers. In addition, the reports should indicate whether the company has employed brokers, investment bankers or others to assist in the divestiture, or its reasons for not doing so, and should describe other efforts by the company to seek out possible purchasers. The purpose of requiring such reports is to insure that substantial and good faith efforts are being made by the company to satisfy its divestiture obligations. The frequency of such reports may vary depending upon the nature of the divestiture and the period specified for divestiture. However, such reports should generally not be required less frequently than every three months, and may in appropriate cases be required on a monthly or even more frequent basis. Progress reports as well as divestiture plans should be afforded confidential treatment.
(4) Extensions of Divestiture Periods. Certain divestiture periods--such such as the December 31, 1980 deadline for divestitures required by the 1970 Amendments to the Bank Holding Company Act--are not extendable. In such cases it is imperative that divestiture be accomplished in a timely manner. In certain other cases, the Board may have discretion to extend a statutorily prescribed divestiture period within specified limits. For example, under section 4(c)(2) of the Act the Board may extend for three one-year periods the two-year period in which a bank subsidiary of a holding company is otherwise required to divest shares acquired in satisfaction of a debt previously contracted in good faith. In such cases, however, when the permissible extensions expire the Board no longer has discretion to grant further extensions. In still other cases, where a divestiture period is prescribed by the Board, in the exercise of its regulatory judgment, the Board may have broader discretion to grant extensions. Where extensions of specified divestiture periods are permitted by law, extensions should not be granted except under compelling circumstances. Neither unfavorable market conditions, nor the possibility that the company may incur some loss, should alone be viewed as constituting such circumstances--particularly if the company has failed to take earlier steps to accomplish a divestiture under more favorable circumstances. Normally, a request for an extension will not be considered unless the company has established that it has made substantial and continued good faith efforts to accomplish the divestiture within the prescribed period. Furthermore, requests for extensions of divestiture periods must be made sufficiently in advance of the expiration of the prescribed period both to enable the Board to consider the request in an orderly manner and to enable the company to effect a timely divestiture in the event the request for extension is denied. Companies subject to divestiture requirements should be aware that a failure to accomplish a divestiture within the prescribed period may in and of itself be viewed as a separate violation of the Act.
(5) Use of Trustees. In appropriate cases a company subject to a divestiture requirement may be required to place the assets subject to divestiture with an independent trustee under instructions to accomplish a sale by a specified date, by public auction if necessary. Such a trustee may be given the responsibility for exercising the voting rights with respect to shares being divested. The use of such a trustee may be particularly appropriate where the divestiture is intended to terminate a control relationship established or maintained in violation of law, or where the divesting company has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to take timely steps to effect a divestiture.
(6) Presumptions of Control. Bank holding companies contemplating a divestiture should be mindful of section 2(g)(3) of the Bank Holding Company Act, which creates a presumption of continued control over the transferred assets where the transferee is indebted to the transferor, or where certain interlocks exist, as well as § 225.2 of Regula- tion Y, which sets forth certain additional control presumptions. Where one of these presumptions has arisen with respect to divested assets, the divestiture will not be considered as complete until the presumption has been overcome. It should be understood that the inquiry into the termination of control relationships is not limited by the statutory and regulatory presumptions of control, and that the Board may conclude that a control relationship still exists even though the presumptions do not apply.
(7) Role of the Reserve Banks. The Reserve Banks have a responsibility for supervising and enforcing divestitures. Specifically, in coordination with Board staff they should review divestiture plans to assure that proposed divestitures will result in the termination of control relationships and will not create unsafe or unsound conditions in any bank or bank holding company; they should monitor periodic progress reports to assure that timely steps are being taken to effect divestitures; and they should prompt companies to take such steps when it appears that progress is not being made. Where Reserve Banks have delegated authority to extend divestiture periods, that authority should be exercised consistently with this policy statement.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.138]
§ 225.139 Presumption of continued control under section 2(g)(3) of the Bank Holding Company Act.
(a) Section 2(g)(3) of the Bank Holding Company Act (the "Act") establishes a statutory presumption that where certain specified relationships exist between a transferor and transferee of shares, the transferor (if it is a bank holding company, or a company that would be such but for the transfer) continues to own or control indirectly the transferred shares.1 This presumption arises by operation of law, as of the date of the transfer, without the need for any order or determination by the Board. Operation of the presumption may be terminated only by the issuance of a Board determination, after opportunity for hearing, "that the transferor is not in fact capable of controlling the transferee."2
(b) The purpose of section 2(g)(3) is to provide the Board an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of divestitures in certain situations in which there may be a risk that the divestiture will not result in the complete termination of a control relationship. By presuming control to continue as a matter of law, section 2(g)(3) operates to allow the effectiveness of the divestiture to be assessed before the divesting company is permitted to act on the assumption that the divestiture is complete. Thus, for example, if a holding company divests its banking interest under circumstances where the presumption of continued control arises, the divesting company must continue to consider itself bound by the Act until an appropriate order is entered by the Board dispelling the presumption. Section 2(g)(3) does not establish a substantive rule that invalidates transfers to which it applies, and in a great many cases the Board has acted favorably on applications to have the presumption dispelled. It merely provides a procedural opportunity for Board consideration of the effect of such transfers in advance of their being deemed effective. Whether or not the statutory presumption arises, the substantive test for assessing the effectiveness of a divestiture is the same--that is, the Board must be assured that all control relationships between the transferor and the transferred property have been terminated and will not be reestablished.3
(c) In the course of administering section 2(g)(3) the Board has had several occasions to consider the scope of that section. In addition, questions have been raised by and with the Board's staff as to coverage of the section. Accordingly, the Board believes it would be useful to set forth the following interpretations of section 2(g)(3):
(1) The terms "transferor" and "transferee," as used in section 2(g)(3), include parents and subsidiaries of each. Thus, for example, where a transferee is indebted to a subsidiary of the transferor, or where a specified interlocking relationship exists between the transferor or transferee and a subsidiary of the other (or between subsidiaries of each), the presumption arises. Similarly, if a parent of the transferee is indebted to a parent of the transferor, the presumption arises. The presumption of continued control also arises where an interlock or debt relationship is retained between the divesting company and the company being divested, since the divested company will be or may be viewed as a "subsidiary" of the transferee or group of transferees.
(2) The terms "officers," "directors," and "trustees," as used in section 2(g)(3), include persons performing functions normally associated with such positions (including general partners in a partnership and limited partners having a right to participate in the management of the affairs of the partnership) as well as persons holding such positions in an advisory or honorary capacity. The presumption arises not only where the transferee or transferred company has an officer, director or trustee "in common with" the transferor, but where the transferee himself holds such a position with the transferor.4 It should be noted that where a transfer takes the form of a pro-rata distribution, or "spinoff," of shares to a company's shareholders, officers and directors of the transferor company are likely to receive a portion of such shares. The presumption of continued control would, of course, attach to any shares transferred to officers and directors of the divesting company, whether by "spinoff" or outright sale. However, the presumption will be of legal significance--and will thus require an application under section 2(g)(3)--only where the total number of shares subject to the presumption exceeds one of the applicable thresholds in the Act. For example, where officers and directors of a one-bank holding company receive in the aggregate 25 percent or more of the stock of a bank subsidiary being divested by the holding company, the holding company would be presumed to continue to control the "divested" bank. In such a case it would be necessary for the divesting company to demonstrate that it no longer controls either the divested bank or the officer/director transferees. However, if officers and directors were to receive in the aggregate less than 25 percent of the bank's stock (and no other shares were subject to the presumption), section 2(g)(3) would not have the legal effect of presuming continued control of the bank.5 In the case of a divestiture of nonbank shares, an application under section 2(g)(3) would be required whenever officers and directors of the divesting company received in the aggregate more than 5 percent of the shares of the company being divested.
(3) Although section 2(g)(3) refers to transfers of "shares" it is not, in the Board's view, limited to disposition of corporate stock. General or limited partnership interests, for example, are included within the term "shares." Furthermore, the transfer of all or substantially all of the assets of a company, or the transfer of such a significant volume of assets that the transfer may in effect constitute the disposition of a separate activity of the company, is deemed by the Board to involve a transfer of "shares" of that company.
(4) The term "indebtedness" giving rise to the presumption of continued control under section 2(g)(3) of the Act is not limited to debt incurred in connection with the transfer; it includes any debt outstanding at the time of transfer from the transferee to the transferor or its subsidiaries. However, the Board believes that not every kind of indebtedness was within the contemplation of the Congress when section 2(g)(3) was adopted. Routine business credit of limited amounts and loans for personal or household purposes are generally not the kinds of indebtedness that, standing alone, support a presumption that the creditor is able to control the debtor. Accordingly, the Board does not regard the presumption of section 2(g)(3) as applicable to the following categories of credit, provided the extensions of credit are not secured by the transferred property and are made in the ordinary course of business of the transferor (or its subsidiary) that is regularly engaged in the business of extending credit: (i) consumer credit extended for personal or household use to an individual transferee; (ii) student loans made for the education of the individual transferee or a spouse or child of the transferee; (iii) a home mortgage loan made to an individual transferee for the purchase of a residence for the individual's personal use and secured by the residence; and (iv) loans made to companies (as defined in section 2(b) of the Act) in an aggregate amount not exceeding ten per cent of the total purchase price (or if not sold, the fair market value) of the transferred property. The amounts and terms of the preceding categories of credit should not differ substantially from similar credit extended in comparable circumstances to others who are not transferees. It should be understood that, while the statutory presumption in situations involving these categories of credit may not apply, the Board is not precluded in any case from examining the facts of a particular transfer and finding that the divestiture of control was ineffective based on the facts of record.
(d) Section 2(g)(3) provides that a Board determination that a transferor is not in fact capable of controlling a transferee shall be made after opportunity for hearing. It has been the Board's routine practice since 1966 to publish notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER of applications filed under section 2(g)(3) and to offer interested parties an opportunity for a hearing. Virtually without exception no comments have been submitted on such applications by parties other than the applicant and, with the exception of one case in which the request was later withdrawn, no hearings have been requested in such cases. Because the Board believes that the hearing provision in section 2(g)(3) was intended as a protection for applicants who are seeking to have the presumption overcome by a Board order, a hearing would not be of use where an application is to be granted. In light of the experience indicating that the publication of FEDERAL REGISTER notice of such applications has not served a useful purpose, the Board has decided to alter its procedures in such cases. In the future, FEDERAL REGISTER notice of section 2(g)(3) applications will be published only in cases in which the Board's General Counsel, acting under delegated authority, has determined not to grant such an application and has referred the matter to the Board for decision.6
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.139]
§ 225.140 Disposition of property acquired in satisfaction of debts previously contracted.
(a) The Board recently considered the permissibility, under section 4 of the Bank Holding Company Act, of a subsidiary of a bank holding company acquiring and holding assets acquired in satisfaction of a debt previously contracted in good faith (a "dpc" acquisition). In the situation presented, a lending subsidiary of a bank holding company made a "dpc" acquisition of assets and transferred them to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the bank holding company for the purpose of effecting an orderly divestiture. The ques- tion presented was whether such "dpc" assets could be held indefinitely by a bank holding company subsidiary as incidental to its permissible lending activity.
(b) While the Board believes that "dpc" acquisitions may be regarded as normal, necessary and incidental to the business of lending, the Board does not believe that the holding of assets acquired "dpc" without any time restrictions is appropriate from the standpoint of prudent banking and in light of the prohibitions in section 4 of the Act against engaging in nonbank activities. If a nonbanking subsidiary of a bank holding company were permitted, either directly or through a subsidiary, to hold "dpc" assets of substantial amount over an extended period of time, the holding of such property could result in an unsafe or unsound banking practice or in the holding company engaging in an impermissible activity in connection with the assets, rather than liquidating them.
(c) The Board notes that section 4(c)(2) of the Bank Holding Company Act provides an exemption from the prohibitions of section 4 of the Act for bank holding company subsidiaries to acquire shares "dpc" . It also provides that such "dpc" shares may be held for a period of two years, subject to the Board's authority to grant three one-year extensions up to a maximum of five years.1 Viewed in light of the Congressional policy evidenced by section 4(c)(2), the Board believes that a lending subsidiary of a bank holding company or the holding company itself, should be permitted, as an incident to permissible lending activities, to make acquisitions of "dpc" assets. Consistent with the principles underlying the provisions of section 4(c)(2) of the Act and as a matter of prudent banking practice, such assets may be held for no longer than five years from the date of acquisition. Within the divestiture period it is expected that the company will make good faith efforts to dispose of "dpc" shares or assets at the earliest practicable date. While no specific authorization is necessary to hold such assets for the five-year period, after two years from the date of acquisition of such assets, the holding company should report annually on its efforts to accomplish divestiture to its Reserve Bank. The Reserve Bank will monitor the efforts of the company to effect an orderly divestiture, and may order divestiture before the end of the five-year period if supervisory concerns warrant such action.
(d) The Board recognizes that there are instances where a company may encounter particular difficulty in attempting to effect an orderly divestiture of "dpc" real estate holdings within the divestiture period, notwithstanding its persistent good faith efforts to dispose of such property. In the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, (Pub. L. 96-221) Congress, recognizing that real estate possesses unusual characteristics, amended the National Banking Act to permit national banks to hold real estate for five years and for an additional five-year period subject to certain conditions. Consistent with the policy underlying the recent Congressional enactment, and as a matter of supervisory policy, a bank holding company may be permitted to hold real estate acquired "dpc" beyond the initial five-year period provided that the value of the real estate on the books of the company has been written down to fair market value, the carrying costs are not significant in relation to the overall financial position of the company, and the company has made good faith efforts to effect divestiture. Companies holding real estate for this extended period are expected to make active efforts to dispose of it, and should keep the Reserve Bank advised on a regular basis concerning their ongoing efforts. Fair market value should be derived from appraisals, comparable sales or some other reasonable method. In any case, "dpc" real estate would not be permitted to be held beyond 10 years from the date of its acquisition.
(e) With respect to the transfer by a subsidiary of other "dpc" shares or assets to another company in the holding company system, including a section 4(c)(1)(D) liquidating subsidiary, or to the holding company itself, such transfers would not alter the original divestiture period applicable to such shares or assets at the time of their acquisition. Moreover, to ensure that assets are not carried at inflated values for extended periods of time, the Board expects, in the case of all such intracompany transfers, that the shares or assets will be transferred at a value no greater than the fair market value at the time of transfer and that the transfer will be made in a normal arms-length transaction.
(f) With regard to "dpc" assets acquired by a banking subsidiary of a holding company, so long as the assets continue to be held by the bank itself, the Board will regard them as being solely within the regulatory authority of the primary supervisor of the bank.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.140]
§ 225.141 Operations subsidiaries of a bank holding company.
In orders approving the retention by a bank holding company of a 4(c)(8) subsidiary, the Board has stated that it would permit, without any specific regulatory approval, the formation of a wholly-owned subsidiary of an approved 4(c)(8) company to engage in activities that such a company could itself engage in directly through a division or department. (Northwestern Financial Corporation, 65 Federal Reserve Bulletin 566 (1979).) Section 4(a)(2) of the Act provides generally that a bank holding company may engage directly in the business of managing and controlling banks and permissible nonbank activities, and in furnishing services directly to its subsidiaries. Even though section 4 of the Act generally prohibits the acquisition of shares of nonbanking organizations, the Board does not believe that such prohibition should apply to the formation by a holding company of a wholly-owned subsidiary to engage in activities that it could engage in directly. Accordingly, as a general matter, the Board will permit without any regulatory approval a bank holding company to form a wholly-owned subsidiary to perform servicing activities for subsidiaries that the holding company itself could perform directly or through a department or a division under section 4(a)(2) of the Act. The Board believes that permitting this type of subsidiary is not inconsistent with the nonbanking prohibitions of section 4 of the Act, and is consistent with the authority in section 4(c)(1)(C) of the Act, which permits a bank holding company, without regulatory approval, to form a subsidiary to perform services for its banking subsidiaries. The Board notes, however, that a servicing subsidiary established by a bank holding company in reliance on this interpretation will be an affiliate of the subsidiary bank of the holding company for the purposes of the lending restrictions of section 23A of the Federal Reserve Act. (12 U.S.C. 371c)
The Board has issued this interpretation pursuant to its statutory authority under sections 4(a)(2) and 5(b) of the Bank Holding Company Act, 12 U.S.C. 1843(a)(2) and 1844(b).
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.141]
§ 225.142 Statement of policy concerning bank holding companies engaging in futures, forward and options contracts on U.S. Government and agency securities and money market instruments.
(a) Purpose of financial contract positions. In supervising the activities of bank holding companies, the Board has adopted and continues to follow the principle that bank holding companies should serve as a source of strength for their subsidiary banks. Accordingly, the Board believes that any positions that bank holding companies or their nonbank subsidiaries take in financial contracts should reduce risk exposure, that is, not be speculative.
(b) Establishment of prudent written policies, appropriate limitations and internal controls and audit programs. If the parent organization or nonbank subsidiary is taking or intends to take positions in financial contracts, that company's board of directors should approve prudent written policies and establish appropriate limitations to insure that financial contract activities are performed in a safe and sound manner with levels of activity reasonably related to the organization's business needs and capacity to fulfill obligations. In addition, internal controls and internal audit programs to monitor such activity should be established. The board of directors, a duly authorized committee thereof or the internal auditors should review periodically (at least monthly) all financial contract positions to insure conformity with such policies and limits. In order to determine the company's exposure, all open positions should be reviewed and market values determined at least monthly, or more often, depending on volume and magnitude of positions.
(c) Formulating policies and recording financial contracts. In formulating its policies and procedures, the parent holding company may consider the interest rate exposure of its nonbank subsidiaries, but not that of its bank subsidiaries. As a matter of policy, the Board believes that any financial contracts executed to reduce the interest rate exposure of a bank affiliate of a holding company should be reflected on the books and records of the bank affiliate (to the extent required by the bank policy statements), rather than on the books and records of the parent company. If a bank has an interest rate exposure that management believes requires hedging with financial contracts, the bank should be the direct beneficiary of any effort to reduce that exposure. The Board also believes that final responsibility for financial contract transactions for the account of each affiliated bank should reside with the management of that bank.
(d) Accounting. The joint bank policy statements of March 12, 1980 include accounting guidelines for banks that engage in financial contract activities. Since the Financial Accounting Standards Board is presently considering accounting standards for contract activities, no specific accounting requirements for financial contracts entered into by parent bank holding companies and nonbank subsidiaries are being mandated at this time. The Board expects to review further developments in this area.
(e) Board to monitor bank holding company transactions in financial contracts. The Board intends to monitor closely bank holding company transactions in financial contracts to ensure that any such activity is consistent with maintaining a safe and sound banking system. In any cases where bank holding companies are found to be engaging in speculative practices, the Board is prepared to institute appropriate action under the Financial Institutions Supervisory Act of 1966, as amended.
(f) Federal Reserve bank notification. Bank holding companies should furnish written notification to their district Federal reserve Bank within 10 days after financial contract activities are begun by the parent or a nonbank subsidiary. Holding companies in which the parent or a nonbank subsidiary currently engage in financial contract activity should furnish notice by March 31, 1983.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.142]
§ 225.143 Policy statement on nonvoting equity investments by bank holding companies.
(1) In recent months, a number of bank holding companies have made substantial equity investments in a bank or bank holding company (the "acquiree") located in states other than the home state of the investing company through acquisition of preferred stock or nonvoting common shares of the acquiree. Because of the evident interest in these types of investments and because they raise substantial questions under the Bank Holding Company Act (the "Act"), the Board believes it is appropriate to provide guidance regarding the consistency of such arrangements with the Act.
(2) This statement sets out the Board's concerns with these investments, the considerations the Board will take into account in determining whether the investments are consistent with the Act, and the general scope of arrangements to be avoided by bank holding companies. The Board recognizes that the complexity of legitimate business arrangements precludes rigid rules designed to cover all situations and that decisions regarding the existence or absence of control in any particular case must take into account the effect of the combination of provisions and convenants in the agreement as a whole and the particular facts and circumstances of each case. Nevertheless, the Board believes that the factors outlined in this statement provide a framework for guiding bank holding companies in complying with the requirements of the Act.
(b) Statutory and Regulatory Provisions.
(1) Under section 3(a) of the Act, a bank holding company may not acquire direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5 percent of the voting shares of a bank without the Board's prior approval. (12 U.S.C. 1842(a)(3)). In addition, this section of the Act provides that a bank holding company may not, without the Board's prior approval, acquire control of a bank: that is, in the words of the statute, "for any action to be taken that causes a bank to become a subsidiary of a bank holding company." (12 U.S.C. 1842(a)(2)). Under the Act, a bank is a subsidiary of a bank holding company if:
(i) The company directly or indirectly owns, controls, or holds with power to vote 25 percent or more of the voting shares of the bank;
(ii) The company controls in any manner the election of a majority of the board of directors of the bank; or
(iii) The Board determines, after notice and opportunity for hearing, that the company has the power, directly or indirectly, to exercise a controlling influence over the management or policies of the bank. (12 U.S.C. 1841(d)).
(2) In intrastate situations, the Board may approve bank holding company acquisitions of additional banking subsidiaries. However, where the acquiree is located outside the home state of the investing bank holding company, section 3(d) of the Act prevents the Board from approving any application that will permit a bank holding company to "acquire, directly or indirectly, any voting shares of, interest in, or all or substantially all of the assets of any additional bank." (12 U.S.C. 1842(d)(1)).
(c) Review of Agreements.
(1) In apparent expectation of statutory changes that might make interstate banking permissible, bank holding companies have sought to make substantial equity investments in other bank holding companies across state lines, but without obtaining more than 5 percent of the voting shares or control of the acquiree. These investments involve a combination of the following arrangements:
(i) Options on, warrants for, or rights to convert nonvoting shares into substantial blocks of voting securities of the acquiree bank holding company or its subsidiary bank(s);
(ii) Merger or asset acquisition agreements with the out-of-state bank or bank holding company that are to be consummated in the event interstate banking is permitted;
(iii) Provisions that limit or restrict major policies, operations or decisions of the acquiree; and
(iv) Provisions that make acquisition of the acquiree or its subsidiary bank(s) by a third party either impossible or economically impracticable.
The various warrants, options, and rights are not exercisable by the investing bank holding company unless interstate banking is permitted, but may be transferred by the investor either immediately or after the passage of a period of time or upon the occurrence of certain events.
(2) After a careful review of a number of these agreements, the Board believes that investments in nonvoting stock, absent other arrangements, can be consistent with the Act. Some of the agreements reviewed appear consistent with the Act since they are limited to investments of relatively moderate size in nonvoting equity that may become voting equity only if interstate banking is authorized.
(3) However, other agreements reviewed by the Board raise substantial problems of consistency with the control provisions of the Act because the investors, uncertain whether or when interstate banking may be authorized, have evidently sought to assure the soundness of their investments, prevent takeovers by others, and allow for sale of their options, warrants, or rights to a person of the investor's choice in the event a third party obtains control of the acquiree or the investor otherwise becomes dissatisfied with its investment. Since the Act precludes the investors from protecting their investments through ownership or use of voting shares or other exercise of control, the investors have substituted contractual agreements for rights normally achieved through voting shares.
(4) For example, various covenants in certain of the agreements seek to assure the continuing soundness of the investment by substantially limiting the discretion of the acquiree's management over major policies and decisions, including restrictions on entering into new banking activities without the investor's approval and requirements for extensive consultations with the investor on financial matters. By their terms, these covenants suggest control by the investing company over the management and policies of the acquiree.
(5) Similarly, certain of the agreements deprive the acquiree bank holding company, by covenant or because of an option, of the right to sell, transfer, or encumber a majority or all of the voting shares of its subsidiary bank(s) with the aim of maintaining the integrity of the investment and preventing takeovers by others. These long-term restrictions on voting shares fall within the presumption in the Board's Regulation Y that attributes control of shares to any company that enters into any agreement placing long-term restrictions on the rights of a holder of voting securities. (12 CFR 225.2(b)(4)).
(6) Finally, investors wish to reserve the right to sell their options, warrants or rights to a person of their choice to prevent being locked into what may become an unwanted investment. The Board has taken the position that the ability to control the ultimate disposition of voting shares to a person of the investor's choice and to secure the economic benefits therefrom indicates control of the shares under the Act.1 Moreover, the ability to transfer rights to large blocks of voting shares, even if nonvoting in the hands of the investing company, may result in such a substantial position of leverage over the management of the acquiree as to involve a structure that inevitably results in control prohibited by the Act.
(d) Provisions That Avoid Control.
(1) In the context of any particular agreement, provisions of the type described above may be acceptable if combined with other provisions that serve to preclude control. The Board believes that such agreements will not be consistent with the Act unless provisions are included that will preserve management's discretion over the policies and decisions of the acquiree and avoid control of voting shares.
(2) As a first step towards avoiding control, convenants in any agreement should leave management free to conduct banking and permissable nonbanking activities. Another step to avoid control is the right of the acquiree to "call" the equity investment and options or warrants to assure that covenants that may become inhibiting can be avoided by the acquiree. This right makes such investments or agreements more like a loan in which the borrower has a right to escape covenants and avoid the lender's influence by prepaying the loan.
(3) A measure to avoid problems of control arising through the investor's control over the ultimate disposition of rights to substantial amounts of voting shares of the acquiree would be a provision granting the acquiree a right of first refusal before warrants, options or other rights may be sold and requiring a public and dispersed distribution of these rights if the right of first refusal is not exercised.
(4) In this connection, the Board believes that agreements that involve rights to less than 25 percent of the voting shares, with a requirement for a dispersed public distribution in the event of sale, have a much greater prospect of achieving consistency with the Act than agreements involving a greater percentage. This guideline is drawn by analogy from the provision in the Act that ownership of 25 percent or more of the voting securities of a bank constitutes control of the bank.
(5) The Board expects that one effect of this guideline would be to hold down the size of the nonvoting equity investment by the investing company relative to the acquiree's total equity, thus avoiding the potential for control because the investor holds a very large proportion of the acquiree's total equity. Observance of the 25 percent guideline will also make provisions in agreements providing for a right of first refusal or a public and widely dispersed offering of rights to the acquiree's shares more practical and realistic.
(6) Finally, certain arrangements should clearly be avoided regardless of other provisions in the agreement that are designed to avoid control. These are:
(i) Agreements that enable the investing bank holding company (or its designee) to direct in any manner the voting of more than 5 percent of the voting shares of the acquiree;
(ii) Agreements whereby the investing company has the right to direct the acquiree's use of the proceeds of an equity investment by the investing company to effect certain actions, such as the purchase and redemption of the acquiree's voting shares; and
(iii) The acquisition of more than 5 percent of the voting shares of the acquiree that "simultaneously" with their acquisition by the investing company become nonvoting shares, remain nonvoting shares while held by the investor, and revert to voting shares when transferred to a third party.
(e) Review by the Board. This statement does not constitute the exclusive scope of the Board's concerns, nor are the considerations with respect to control outlined in this statement an exhaustive catalog of permissible or impermissible arrangements. The Board has instructed its staff to review agreements of the kind discussed in this statement and to bring to the Board's attention those that raise problems of consistency with the Act. In this regard, companies are requested to notify the Board of the terms of such proposed merger or asset acquisition agreements or nonvoting equity investments prior to their execution or consummation.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.143]
§ 225.145 Limitations established by the Competitive Equality Banking Act of 1987 on the activities and growth of nonbank banks.
(a) Introduction. Effective August 10, 1987, the Competitive Equality Banking Act of 1987 ("CEBA") redefined the term "bank" in the Bank Holding Company Act ("BHC Act" or "Act") to include any bank the deposits of which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as well as any other institution that accepts demand or checkable deposit accounts and is engaged in the business of making commercial loans. 12 U.S.C. 1841(c). CEBA also contained a grandfather provision for certain companies affected by this redefinition. CEBA amended section 4 of the BHC Act to permit a company that on March 5, 1987, controlled a nonbank bank (an institution that became a bank as a result of enactment of CEBA) and that was not a bank holding company on August 9, 1987, to retain its nonbank bank and not be treated as a bank holding company for purposes of the BHC Act if the company and its subsidiary nonbank bank observe certain limitations imposed by CEBA.1 Certain of these limitations are codified in section 4(f)(3) of the BHC Act and generally restrict nonbank banks from commencing new activities or certain crossmarketing activities with affiliates after March 5, 1987, increasing their assets at an annual rate exceeding 7 percent during any 12 month period after August 10, 1988, or permitting overdrafts for affiliates or incurring overdrafts on behalf of affiliates at a Federal Reserve bank, 12 U.S.C. 1843(f)(3).2 The Board's views regarding the meaning and scope of these limitations are set forth below and in provisions of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.51 and 52).
(b) Congressional findings. (1) At the outset, the Board notes that the scope and application of the Act's limitations on nonbank banks must be guided by the Congressional findings set out in section 4(f)(3) of the BHC Act. Congress was aware that these nonbank banks had been acquired by companies that engage in a wide range of nonbanking activities, such as retailing and general securities activities that are forbidden to bank holding companies under section 4 of the BHC Act. In section 4(f)(3), Congress found that nonbank banks controlled by grandfathered nonbanking companies may, because of their relationship with affiliates, be involved in conflicts of interest, concentration of resources, or other effects adverse to bank safety and soundness. Congress also found that nonbank banks may be able to compete unfairly against banks controlled by bank holding companies by combining banking services with financial services not permissible for bank holding companies. Section 4(f)(3) states that the purpose of the nonbank bank limitations is to minimize any such potential adverse effects or inequities by restricting the activities of nonbank banks until further Congressional action in the area of bank powers could be undertaken. Similarly, the Senate Report accompanying CEBA states that the restrictions CEBA places on nonbank banks "will help prevent existing nonbank banks from changing their basic character * * * while Congress considers proposals for comprehensive legislation; from drastically eroding the separation of banking and commerce; and from increasing the potential for unfair competition, conflicts of interest, undue concentration of resources, and other adverse effects." S. Rep. No. 100--19, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. 12 (1987). See also H. Rep. No. 100-261, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. 124 (1987) (the "Conference Report").
(2) Thus, Congress explicitly recognized in the statute itself that nonbanking companies controlling grandfathered nonbank banks, which include the many of the nation's largest commercial and financial organizations, were being accorded a significant competitive advantage that could not be matched by bank holding companies because of the general prohibition against nonbanking activities in section 4 of the BHC Act. Congress recognized that this inequality in regulatory approach could inflect serious competitive harm on regulated bank holding companies as the grandfathered entities sought to exploit potential synergies between banking and commercial products and services. See Conference Report at 125--126. The basic and stated purpose of the restrictions on grandfathered nonbank banks is to minimize these potential anticompetitive effects.
(3) The Board believes that the specific CEBA limitations should be implemented in light of these Congressional findings and the legislative intent reflected in the plain meaning of the terms used in the statute. In those instances when the language of the statute did not provide clear guidance, legislative materials and the Congressional intent manifested in the overall statutory structure were considered. The Board also notes that prior precedent requires that grandfathered exceptions in the BHC Act, such as the nonbank bank limitations and particularly the exceptions thereto, are to be interpreted narrowly in order to ensure the proper implementation of Congressional intent.3
(c) Activity limitation.--(1) Scope of "activity". (i) The first limitation established under section 4(f)(3) provides that a nonbank shall not "engage in any activitiy in which such bank was not lawfully engaged as of March 5, 1987." The term "activity" as used in this provision of CEBA is not defined. The structure and placement of the CEBA activity restriction within seciton 4 of the BHC Act and its legislative history do, however, provide direction as to certain transactions that Congress intended to treat as separate activities, thereby providing guidance as to the meaning Congress intended to ascribe to the term generally. First, it is clear that the term "activity" was not meant to refer to banking as a single activity. To the contrary, the term must be viewed as distinguishing between deposit taking and lending activities and treating demand deposit-taking as a separate activity from general deposit-taking and commercial lending as separate from the general lending category.
(ii) Under the activity limitation, a nonbank bank may engage only in activities in which it was "lawfully engaged" as of March 5, 1987. As of that date, a nonbank bank could not have been engaged in both demand deposit-taking and commercial lending activity without placing it and its parent holding company in violation of the BHC Act. Thus, under the activity limitations, a nonbank bank could not after March 5, 1987, commence the demand deposit-taking or commercial lending activity that it did not conduct as of March 5, 1987. The debates and Senate and Conference Reports on CEBA confirm that Congress intended the activity limitation to prevent a grandfathered nonbank bank from converting itself into a full-service bank by both offering demand deposits and engaging in the business of making commercial loans.4 Thus, these types of transactions provide a clear guide as to the type of banking transactions that would constitute activities under CEBA and the degree of specificity intended by Congress in interpreting that term.
(iii) It is also clear that the activity limitation was not intended simply to prevent a nonbank bank from both accepting demand deposits and making commercial loans; it has a broader scope and purpose. If Congress had meant the term to refer to just these two activities, it would have used the restriction it used in another section of CEBA dealing with nonbank banks owned by bank holding companies which has this result, i.e., the nonbank bank could not engage in any activity that would have caused it to become a bank under the prior bank definition in the Act. See 12 U.S.C. 1843(g)(1)(A). Indeed, an earlier version of CEBA under consideration by the Senate Banking Committee contained such a provision for nonbank banks owned by commercial holding companies, which was deleted in favor of the broader activity limitation actually enacted. Committee Print No. 1, (Feb. 17, 1987). In this regard, both the Senate Report and Conference Report refer to demand deposit-taking and commercial lending as examples of activities that could be affected by the activity limitation, not as the sole activities to be limited by the provision.5
(iv) Finally, additional guidance as to the meaning of the term "activity" is provided by the statutory context in which the term appears. The activity limitation is contained in section 4 of the BHC Act, which regulates the investments and activities of bank holding companies and their nonbank subsidiaries. The Board believes it reasonable to conclude that by placing the CEBA activity limitation in section 4 of the BHC Act, Congress meant that Board and judicial decisions regarding the meaning of the term "activity" in that section be looked to for guidance. This is particularly appropriate given the fact that grandfathered nonbank banks, whether owned by bank holding companies or unregulated holding companies, were treated as nonbank companies and not banks before enactment of CEBA.
(v) This interpretation of the term activity draws support from comments by Senator Proxmire during the Senate's consideration of the provision that the term was not intended to apply "on a product-by-product, customer-by-customer basis." 133 Cong. Rec. S4054--5 (daily ed. March 27, 1987). This is the same manner in which the Board has interpreted the term activity in the nonbanking provision of section 4 as referring to generic categories of activities, not to discrete products and services.
(vi) Accordingly, consistent with the terms and purposes of the legislation and the Congressional intent to minimize unfair competition and the other adverse effects set out inthe CEBA findings, the Board concludes that the term "activity" as used in section 4(f)(3) means any line of banking or nonbanking business. This definition does not, however, envision a product-by-product approach to the activity limitation. The Board believes it would be helpful to describe the application of the activity limitation in the context of the following major categories of activities: deposit-taking, lending, trust, and other activities engaged in the banks.
(2) Deposit-taking activities. (i) With respect to deposit-taking, the Board believes that the activity limitation in section 4(f)(3) generally refers to three types of activity: demand deposit-taking; non-demand deposit-taking with a third party payment capability; and time and savings deposit-taking without third party payment powers. As previously discussed, it is clear from the terms and intent of CEBA that the activity limitation would prevent, and was designed to prevent, nonbank banks that prior to the enactment of CEBA had refrained from accepting demand deposits in order to avoid coverage as a "bank" under the BHC Act, from starting to take these deposits after enactment of CEBA and thus becoming full-service banks. Accordingly, CEBA requires that the taking of demand deposits be treated as a separate activity.
(ii) The Board also considers nondemand deposits withdrawable by check or other similar means for payment to third parties or others to constitute a separate line of business for purposes of applying the activity limitation. In this regard, the Board has previously recognized that this line of business constitutes a permissible but separate activity under section 4 of the BHC Act. Furthermore, the offering of accounts with transaction capability requires different expertise and systems than non-transaction deposit-taking and represented a distinct new activity that traditionally separated banks from thrift and similar institutions.
(iii) Support for this view may also be found in the House Banking Committee report on proposed legislation prior to CEBA that contained a similar prohibition on new activities for nonbank banks. In discussing the activity limitation, the report recognized a distinction between demand deposits and accounts with transaction capability and those without transaction capability:
With respect to deposits, the Committee recognizes that it is legitimate for an institution currently involved in offering demand deposits or other third party transaction accounts to make use of new technologies that are in the process of replacing the existing check-based, paper payment system. Again, however, the Committee does not believe that technology should be used as a lever for an institution that was only incidentially involved in the payment system to transform itself into a significant offeror of transaction account capability.6
(iv) Finally, this distinction between demand and nondemand checkable accounts and accounts not subject to withdrawal by check was specifically recognized by Congress in the redefinition of the term "bank" in CEBA to include an institution that takes demand deposits or "deposits that the depositor may withdraw by check or other means for payment to third parties or others" as well as in various exemptions from that definition for trust companies, credit card banks, and certain industrial banks.7
(v) Thus, an institution that as of March 5, 1987, offered only time and savings accounts that were not withdrawable by check for payment to third parties could not thereafter begin offering accounts with transaction capability, for example, NOW accounts or other types of transaction accounts.
(3) Lending. As noted, the CEBA activity limitation does not treat lending as a single activity; it clearly distinguishes between commerical and other types of lending. This distinction is also reflected in the definition of "bank" in the BHC Act in effect both prior to and after enactment of CEBA as well as in various of the exceptions from this definition. In addition, commercial lending is a specialized form of lending involving different techniques and analysis from other types of lending. Based upon these factors, the Board would view commercial lending as a separate and distinct activity for purposes of the activity limitation in section 4(f)(3). The Board's decisions under section 4 of the BHC Act have not generally differentiated between types of commercial lending, and thus the Board would view commercial lending as a single activity for purposes of CEBA. Thus, a nonbank that made commercial loans as of March 5, 1987, could make any type of commercial loan thereafter.
(i) Commercial lending. For purposes of the activity limitation, a commercial loan is defined in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in Board of Governors v. Dimension Financial Corporation, 474 U.S. 361 (1986), as a direct loan to a business customer for the purpose of providing funds for that customer's business. In this regard, the Board notes that whether a particular transaction is a commercial loan must be determined not from the face of the instrument, but from the application of the definition of commercial loan in the Dimension decision to that transaction. Thus, certain transactions of the type mentioned in the Board's ruling at issue in Dimension and in the Senate and Conference Reports in the CEBA legislation8 would be commercial loans if they meet the test for commercial loans established in Dimension. Under this test, a commercial loan would not include, for example, an open-market investment in a commercial entity that does not involve a borrower-lender relationship or negotiation of credit terms, such as a money market transaction.
(ii) Other lending. Based upon the guidance in the Act as to the degree of specificity required in applying the activity limitation with respect to lending, the Board believes that, in addition to commercial lending, there are three other types of lending activities: consumer mortgage lending, consumer credit card lending, and other consumer lending. Mortgage lending and credit card lending are recognized, discrete lines of banking and business activity, involving techniques and processes that are different from and more specialized than those required for general consumer lending. For example, these activities are, in many cases, conducted by specialized institutions, such as mortgage companies and credit card institutions, or through separate organizational structures within an institution, particularly in the case of mortgage lending. Additionally, the Board's decisions under section 4 of the Act have recognized mortgage banking and credit card lending as separate activities for bank holding companies. The Board's Regulation Y reflects this specialization, noting as examples of permissible lending activity: consumer finance, credit card and mortgage lending. 12 CFR 225.25(b)(1). Finally, CEBA itself recognizes the specialized nature of credit card lending by exempting an institution specializing in that activity from the bank definition. For purpose of the activity limitation, a consumer mortgage loan will mean any loan to an individual that is secured by real estate and that is not a commercial loan. A credit card loan would be any loan made to an individual by means of a credit card that is not a commercial loan.
(4) Trust activities. Under section 4 of the Act, the Board has historically treated trust activities as a single activity and has not differentiated the function on the basis of whether the customer was an individual or a business. See 12 CFR 225.25(b)(3). Similarly, the trust company exemption from the bank definition in CEBA makes no distinction between various types of trust activities. Accordingly, the Board would view trust activities as a separate activity without additional differentiation for purposes of the activity limitation in section 4(f)(3).
(5) Other activities. With respect to activities other than the various traditional deposit-taking, lending or trust activities, the Board believes it appropriate, for the reasons discussed above, to apply the activity limitation in section 4(f)(3) as the term "activity" generally applies in other provisions of section 4 of the BHC Act. Thus, a grandfathered nonbank bank could not, for example, commence after March 5, 1987, any of the following activities (unless it was engaged in such an activity as of that date): discount securities brokerage, full-service securities brokerage investment advisory services, underwriting or dealing in government securities as permissible for member banks, foreign exchange transaction services, real or personal property leasing, courier services, data processing for third parties, insurance agency activities,9 real estate development, real estate brokerage, real estate syndication, insurance underwriting, management consulting, futures commission merchant, or activities of the general type listed in § 225.25(b) of Regulation Y.
(6) Meaning of "engaged in". In order to be "engaged in" an activity, a nonbank bank must demonstrate that it had a program in place to provide a particular product or service included within the grandfathered activity to a customer and that it was in fact offering the product or service to customers as of March 5, 1987. Thus, a nonbank bank is not engaged in an activity as of March 5, 1987, if the product or service in question was in a planning state as of that date and had not been offered or delivered to a customer. Consistent with prior Board interpretations of the term activity in the grandfather provisions of section 4, the Board does not believe that a company may be engaged in an activity on the basis of a single isolated transaction that was not part of a program to offer the particular product or to conduct in the activity on an ongoing basis. For example, a nonbank bank that held an interest in a single real estate project would not thereby be engaged in real estate development for purposes of this provision, unless evidence was presented indicating the interest was held under a program to commence a real estate development business.
(7) Meaning of "as of". The Board believes that the grandfather date "as of March 5, 1987" as used throughout section 4(f)(3) should refer to activities engaged in on March 5, 1987, or a reasonably short period proceding this date not exceeding 13 months. 133 Cong. Rec. S3957 (daily ed. March 26, 1987). (Remarks of Senators Dodd and Proxmire). Activities that the institution had terminated prior to March 5, 1988, however, would not be considered to have been conducted or engaged in "as of" March 5. For example, if within 13 months of March 5, 1987, the nonbank bank had terminated its commercial lending activity in order to avoid the "bank" definition in the Act, the nonbank bank could not recommence that activity after enactment of CEBA.
(d) Cross-marketing limitation.--(1) In general. Section 4(f)(3) also limits cross-marketing activities by nonbank banks and their affiliates. Under this provision, a nonbank bank may not offer or market a product or service of an affiliate unless the product or service may be offered by bank holding companies generally under section 4(c)(8) of the BHC Act. In addition, a nonbank bank may not permit any of its products or services to be offered or marketed by or through a nonbank affiliate unless the affiliate engages only in activities permissible for a bank holding company under section 4(c)(8). These limitations are subject to an exception for products or services that were being so offered or marketed as of March 5, 1987, but only in the same manner in which they were being offered or marketed as of that date.
(2) Examples of impermissible cross-marketing. The Conference Report illustrates the application of this limitation to the following two covered transactions: (i) products and services of an affiliate that bank holding companies may not offer under the BHC Act, and (ii) products and services of the nonbank bank. In the first case, the restrictions would prohibit, for example, a company from marketing life insurance or automotive supplies through its affiliate nonbank bank because these products are not generally permissible under the BHC Act. Conference Report at 126. In the second case, a nonbank bank may not permit its products or services to be offered or marketed through a life insurance affiliate or automobile parts retailer because these affiliates engage in activities prohibited under the BHC Act. Id.
(3) Permissible cross-marketing. On the other hand, a nonbank bank could offer to its customers consumer loans from an affiliated mortgage banking or consumer finance company. These affiliates could likewise offer their customers the nonbank bank's products or services provided the affiliates engaged only in activities permitted for bank holding companies under the closely-releated-to-banking standard of section 4(c)(8) of the BHC Act. If the affiliate is engaged in both permissible and impermissible activities within the meaning of section 4(c)(8) of the BHC Act, however, the affiliate could not offer or market the nonbank bank's products or services.
(4) Product approach to cross-marketing restriction. (i) Unlike the activity restrictions, the cross-marketing restrictions of CEBA apply by their terms to individual products and services. Thus, an affiliate of a nonbank bank that was engaged in activities that are not permissible for bank holding companies and that was marketing a particular product or service of a nonbank bank on the grandfather date could continue to market that product and, as discussed below, could change the terms and conditions of the loan. The nonbank affiliate could not, however, begin to offer or market another product or service of the nonbank bank.
(ii) The Board believes that the term "product or service" must be interpreted in light of its accepted ordinary commercial usage. In some instances, commercial usage has identified a group of products so closely related that they constitute a product line (e.g., certificates of deposit) and differences in versions of the product (e.g., a one-year certificate of deposit) simply represent a difference in the terms of the product.10 This approach is consistent with the treatment of CEBA's legislative history of certificates of deposit as a product line rather than each particular type of CD as a separate product.11
(iii) In the area of consumer lending, the Board believes the following provide examples of different consumer loan products: mortgage loans to finance the purchase of the borrower's residence, unsecured consumer loans, consumer installment loans secured by the personal property to be purchased (e.g. automobile, boat or home appliance loans), or second mortgage loans.12 Under this interpretation, a nonbank bank that offered automobile loans through a nonbank affiliate on the grandfather date could market boat loans, appliance loans or any type of secured consumer installment loan through that affiliate. It could not, however, market unsecured consumer loans, home mortgage loans or other types of consumer loans.
(iv) In other areas, the Board believes that the determination as to what constitutes a product or service should be made on a case-by-case basis consistent with the principles that the terms "product or service" must be interpreted in accordance with their ordinary commercial usage and must be narrower in scope than the definition of activity. Essentially, the concept applies in this analysis is one of permitting the continuation of the specific product marketing activity that was undertaken as of March 5, 1987. Thus, for example, while insurance underwriting may constitute a separate activity under CEBA, a nonbank bank could not market a life insurance policy issued by the affiliate if on the grandfather date it had only marketed homeowners' policies issued by the affiliate.
(5) Change in terms and conditions permitted. (i) The cross-marketing restrictions would not limit the ability of the institution to change the specific terms and conditions of a particular grandfathered product or service. The Conference Report indicates a legislative intent not to lock into place the specific terms or conditions of a grandfathered product or service. Conference Report at 126. For example, a nonbank bank marketing a three-year, $5,000 certificate of deposit through an affiliate under the exemption could offer a one-year $2,000 certificate of deposit with a different interest rate after the grandfather date. See footnote 11 above. Modifications that alter the type of product, however, are not permitted. Thus, a nonbank bank that marketed through affiliates on March 5, 1987, only certificates of deposit could not commence marketing MMDA's or NOW accounts after the grandfather date.
(ii) General changes in the character of the product or service as the result of market or technological innovation are similarly permitted to the extent that they do not transform a grandfathered product into a new product. Thus, an unsecured line of credit could not be modified to include a lien on the borrower's residence without becoming a new product.
(6) Meaning of "offer or market". In the Board's opinion, the terms "offer or market" in the cross-marketing restrictions refer to the presentation to a customer of an institution's products or service through any type of program, including telemarketing, advertising brochures, direct mailing, personal solicitation, customer referrals, or joint-marketing agreements or presentations. An institution must have offered or actually marketed the product or service on March 5 or shortly before that date (as discussed above) to qualify for the grandfather privilege. Thus, if the cross-marketing program was in the planning stage on March 5, 1987, the program would not qualify for grandfather treatment under CEBA.
(7) Limitations on cross-marketing to "in the same manner". (i) The cross-marketing restriction in section 4(f)(3) contains a grandfather provision that permits products or services that would otherwise be prohibited from being offered or marketed under the provision to continue to be offered or marketed by a particular entity if the products or services were being so offered or marketed as of March 5, 1987, but "only in the same manner in which they were being offered or marketed as of that date." Thus, to qualify for the grandfather provision, the manner of offering or marketing the otherwise prohibited product or service must remain the same as on the grandfather date.
(ii) In interpreting this provision, the Board notes that Congress designed the joint-marketing restrictions to prevent the significant risk to the public posed by the conduct of such activities by insured banks affiliated with companies engaged in generarl commerce, to ensure objectivity in the credit-granting process and to "minimize the unfair competitive advantage that grandfathered commercial companies owning nonbank banks might otherwise engage over regulated bank holding companies and our competing commercial companies that have no subsidiary bank." Conference Report at 125--126. The Board believes that determinations regarding the manner of cross-marketing of a particular product or service may best be accomplished by applying the limitation to the particular facts in each case consistent with the stated purpose of this provision of CEBA and the general principle that grandfather restrictions and exceptions to general prohibitions must be narrowly construed in order to prevent the exception from nullifying the rule. Essentially, as in the scope of the term "product or service", the guiding principle of Congressional intent with respect to this term is to permit only the continuation of the specific types of cross-marketing activity that were undertaken as of March 5, 1987.
(8) Eligibility for cross-marketing grandfather exemption. The Conference Report also clarifies that entitlement to an exemption to continue to cross-market products and services otherwise prohibited by the statute applies only to the specific company that was engaged in the activity as of March 5, 1987. Conference Report at 126. Thus, an affiliate that was not engaged in cross-marketing products or services as of the grandfather date may not commence these activities under the exemption even if such activities were being conducted by another affiliate. Id.; see also S. Rep. No. 100--19 at 33--34.
(e) Eligibility for grandfathered nonbank bank status. In reviewing the reports required by CEBA, the Board notes that a number of institutions that had not commenced business operations on August 10, 1987, the date of enactment of CEBA, claimed grandfather privileges under section 4(f)(3) of CEBA. To qualify for grandfather privileges under section 4(f)(3), the institution must have "bec[o]me a bank as a result of the enactment of [CEBA]" and must have been controlled by a nonbanking company on March 5, 1987. 12 U.S.C. 1843(f)(1)(A). An institution that did not have FDIC insurance on August 10, 1987, and that did not accept demand deposits or transaction accounts or engage in the business of commercial lending on that date, would not have become a "bank" as a result of enactment of CEBA. Thus, institutions that had not commenced operations on August 10, 1987, could not qualify for grandfather privileges under section 4(f)(3) of CEBA. This view is supported by the activity limitations of section 4(f)(3), which, as noted, limit the activities of grandfather nonbank banks to those in which they were lawfully engaged as of March 5, 1987. A nonbank bank that had not commenced conducting business activities on March 5, 1987, could not after enactment of CEBA engage in any activities under this provision.
[Codified to 12 C.F.R. § 225.145]
[Source: Section 225.145 added at 53 Fed. Reg. 37746, Septembe 28, 1988, effective October 28, 1988; 62 Fed. Reg. 9343, February 28, 1997, effective April 21, 1997]
1 Section 225.4(c)(3) of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.4(c)(3)) generally prohibits a bank holding company or its subsidiary engaged in activities pursuant to authority of section 4(c)(8) of the Act from being a party to any merger "or acquisition of assets other than in the ordinary course of business" without prior Board approval. Go back to Text
2 In accordance with the provisions of section 4(c)(8) of the Act and § 225.4(b) of Regulation Y, the acquisition of a going concern requires prior Board approval. Go back to Text
1 Section 4(c)(6) of the Act provides an exemption from the Act's prohibitions on ownership of shares in nonbanking companies for "shares of any company which do not include more than 5 per centum of the outstanding voting shares of such company." Go back to Text
1 The presumption arises where the transferee "is indebted to the transferor, or has one or more officers, directors, trustees, or beneficiaries in common with or subject to control by the transferor." Go back to Text
3 It should be noted, however, that the Board will require termination of any interlocking management relationships between the divesting company and the transferee or the divested company as a precondition of finding that a divestiture is complete. Similarly, the retention of an economic interest in the divested company that would create an incentive for the divesting company to attempt to influence the management of the divested company will preclude a finding that the divestiture is complete. (See the Board's Order in the matter of "International Bank", 1977 Federal Reserve Bulletin 1106, 1113.) Go back to Text
4 It has been suggested that the words "in common with" in section 2(g)(3) evidence an intent to make the presumption applicable only were the transferee is a company having an interlock with the transferor. Such an interpretation would, in the Board's view, create an unwarranted gap in the coverage of section 2(g)(3). Furthermore, because the presumption clearly arises where the transferee is an individual who is indebted to the transferor such an interpretation would result in an illogical internal inconsistency in the statute. Go back to Text
5 Of course, the fact that section 2(g)(3) would not operate to presume continued control would not necessarily mean that control had in fact been terminated if control could be exercised through other means. Go back to Text
6 It should be noted that in the event a third party should
take exception to a Board order under section 2(g)(3) finding that
control has been terminated, any rights such party might have would not
be prejudiced by the order. If such party brought facts to the Board's
attention indicating that control had not been terminated the Board
would have ample authority to revoke its order and take necessary
1 The Board notes that where the dpc shares or other similar interests represent less than 5 percent of the total of such interests outstanding, they may be retained on the basis of section 4(c)(6), even if originally acquired dpc. Go back to Text
1 See Board letter dated March 18, 1982, to C. A. Cavendes, Sociedad Financiera. Go back to Text
1 12 U.S.C. 1843(f). Such a company is treated as a bank holding company, however, for purposes of the anti-tying provisions in section 106 of the BHC Act Amendments of 1970 (12 U.S.C. 1971 et seq.) and the insider lending limitations of section 22(h) of the Federal Reserve Act (12 U.S.C. 375b). The company is also subject to certain examination and enforcement provisions to assure compliance with CEBA. Go back to Text
2CEBA also prohibits, with certain limited exceptions, a company controlling a grandfathered nonbank bank from acquiring control of an additional bank or thrift institution or acquiring, directly or indirectly after March 5, 1987, more than 5 percent of the assets or shares of a bank or thrift institution, 12 U.S.C. 1843(f)(2). Go back to Text
3E.g., Maryland National Corporation, 73 Federal Reserve Bulletin 310, 313--314 (1987). Cf., Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad Co. v. United States, 241 U.S. 344, 350 (1915). Go back to Text
4Conference Report at 124--25; S. Rep. No. 100--19 at 12, 32; H. Rep. No. 99--175, 99th Cong., 1st Sess. 3 (1985) ("the activities limitation is to prevent an institution engaged in a limited range of functions from expanding into new areas and becoming, in essence, a full-service bank"); 133 Cong. Rec. S4054 (daily ed. March 27, 1987); (Comments of Senator Proxmire). Go back to Text
5Conference Report at 124--125; S. Rep. No. 100--19 at 32. Go back to Text
6H. Rep. No. 99--175, 99th Cong., 1st Sess. 13 (1985). Go back to Text
8S. Rep. No. 100--19 at 31; Conference Report at 123. Go back to Text
9In this area, section 4 of the Act does not treat all insurance agency activities as a single activity. Thus, for example, the Act treats the sale of credit-related life, accident and health insurance as a separate activity from general insurance agency activities. See 12 U.S.C. 1843(c)(8). Go back to Text
10American Bankers Association, Banking Terminology (1981). Go back to Text
11During the Senate debates on CEBA, Senator Proxmire in
response to a statement from Senator Cranston that the joint-marketing
restrictions do not lock into place the specific terms or conditions of
the particular grandfathered product or service, stated:
12In this regard, the Supreme Court in United States v. Philadelphia National Bank, noted that "the principal banking products are of course various types of credit, for example: unsecured personal and business loans, mortgage loans, loans secured by securities or accounts receivable, automobile installment and consumer goods, installment loans, tuition financing, bank credit cards, revolving credit funds." 374 U.S. 321, 326 n.5 (1963). Go back to Text