NCRC Statement On OCC Overhaul Of Merger Review Process

In response to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) announcement of proposed revisions to the bank merger review process, National Community Reinvestment Coalition President and CEO Jesse Van Tol released the following statement:

“I’m glad to see the OCC take steps toward the Biden administration’s broader reconsideration of the government’s vital role in protecting competition. Generations of misguided policy choices have left us with an inappropriately lax approach to merger review, where proposed deals were often cleared as though by default. As Comptroller Hsu made clear, the historically permissive treatment of bank mergers owes in part to a lack of clarity, specificity and transparency. The goal in rightsizing these processes is not to stymie corporate tie-ups but to create a balanced and durable system that will ensure mergers help the economy work better for everyone. 

“The details of this effort will ultimately determine its efficacy – and I’m especially keen to learn more about how regulators might stop relying on retail deposits as the sole indicator of market power. But some of the broad highlights Comptroller Hsu laid out are promising. Ending the misguided practice of giving default approval to mergers if review is taking a long time is a good idea whose time has come. But the commitment to launch a thorough, clear and user-friendly public database on the OCC’s merger review work may prove an even more important step forward.

“At least one thing remains constant: No bank merger should be approved without a firm, tangible and enforceable set of pledges to use new market power for the benefit of marginalized communities. The law requires that mergers benefit the public – not just shareholders.”

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