At least three large banks have submitted bids to buy all or part of First Republic, the embattled California lender that US regulators have been racing to save this weekend.
Among those that have put in offers are JPMorgan Chase, PNC and Citizens, according to three sources with knowledge of the situation.
JPMorgan, which led an effort to save First Republic a month ago, is no longer working as an adviser to First Republic, according to a source familiar with the situation, freeing up the bank to rejoin the process as a bidder.
It is still not clear that a deal will get done, and other bidders could emerge. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is leading the government effort, had set a deadline of 12pm Eastern Time for potential bidders, but sources said it was likely the window would remain open.
People close to the situation say the government is determined to wrap up the sales process for First Republic before the bank opens for business on Monday morning.
First Republic and some government officials had been hopeful that the bank could negotiate a deal that would avoid receivership. But that now seems unlikely. The only offers that have been submitted so far are contingent on the FDIC first closing First Republic and putting it into receivership.
All of the bidders have made their offers dependent on the FDIC’s insurance fund covering some of the potential losses that could be created by the transaction, perhaps by taking over all or most of First Republic’s $30bn bond portfolio, which has roughly $500mn in unrealised losses.
One question is whether the FDIC and the Fed would need to grant a so-called “systemic risk exemption” as they did with Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last month, which enables the FDIC to guarantee all deposits, including those above $250,000. Eleven large banks including JPMorgan and PNC put $30bn in deposits with First Republic last month in a failed attempt to stabilise the bank.
Citizens and PNC declined to comment on whether they had submitted a bid for First Republic. JPMorgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment. First Republic and the FDIC also declined to comment on the sales process.
“What will likely happen is the FDIC will seize control and then simultaneously resell the asset to the successful bidder,” said Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs banker and adviser to President Donald Trump, speaking on Sunday morning to CBS’s Face The Nation. “I think that will happen sometime later this afternoon . . . before the markets open in Asia this evening.”
First Republic shares have lost more than 97 per cent of their value this year, driven down by concerns about paper losses on its mortgage book and other assets and massive deposit outflows after the March 10 collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
On Monday, the bank reported that it had lost $100bn in deposits in the first three months of the year, raising concerns that it would soon no longer be able to operate on its own.
On Wednesday, the FDIC asked roughly a dozen banks to tell them what they would be willing to pay for First Republic’s deposits and assets, and what level of losses the FDIC would have to absorb to get the deal done, according to people familiar with the discussions. On Friday, the regulator went back to JPMorgan, PNC and several other lenders and offered to give them access to more detailed information about First Republic.
Guggenheim Securities, which is acting as the financial adviser to the FDIC in the First Republic sales process, late last week reached out to a handful of private equity and other investment firms to see if any were interested. But sources close to the sales process say none of the firms decided to bid.
Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman from California, on Sunday encouraged the FDIC to work with private-sector institutions to come up with a solution for First Republic.
“The FDIC needs to look at the lowest-cost alternative, that’s their mandate,” he told CBS News when asked whether big banks should be blocked from acquiring the lender.
“Right now, they may need to work with banks and private capital to save First Republic. That is the state we’re in.”