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Monday, July 18, 2011 - 10:37am

Ga. Banks Feel More Pain

Federal regulators seized two more Georgia banks late Friday, making 16 failures for the year and 67 since the middle of 2008, leading the nation. And there's likely more pain ahead for the industry in the rest of 2011.

High Trust Bank in Stockbridge, and Atlanta-based One Georgia Bank were both were heavy in real estate loans, but on the commercial side of the ledger. The institutions were taken-over by Ameris Bank of Moultire, which has a strong presence in south Georgia.

Byron Richardson with the consulting firm Bank Resources Inc. says he expects another two to three Georgia banks to fail before the month is out.

And he says recent lawsuits filed by the FDIC against former directors with failed banks, are just the tip of the iceberg.

“How those will be settled is anybody’s guess. But the defendants indeed have to defend themselves, and it’s going to be costly for those bank directors and insiders.”

But Richardson says as Georgia’s bank failures have led the nation, the state’s industry could in-turn lead the way in a recovery:

“I think the banks, I believe the regulators have all been positioning to try to strengthen the overall industry within the state for a couple of years now.”

Richardson does warn that the speed to which that recovery arrives, will also heavily depend on how the deficit reduction talks are resolved in Washington.