The Wall Street Journal: Bank mergers get faster under Trump

The Wall Street Journal, February, 13th, 2019: Bank mergers get faster under Trump 

Before becoming comptroller, Mr. Otting was chief executive of OneWest Bank, which faced opposition from community groups when it was looking to do a deal in 2014. Mr. Otting has said he has strong views on the merger process because of this, citing concerns that community groups “pole vault in and hold [bankers] hostage.”
Community groups, which have long used the merger-review process to press banks to lend more in underserved communities, worry the changes could weaken this bargaining chip.

“As banks grow and they hold more market share, they should produce more of a public benefit,” said Jesse Van Tol, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a fair-lending advocacy group. “A way of ensuring that accountability is to have the public involved in the oversight of what they’re doing.”

Banks complain the process forces them to meet community groups’ demands or risk a deal’s demise. Some financial institutions have opened negotiations with those groups directly to garner their support through deals called community-benefit agreements.

As regulators have shifted their attitude toward community input, banks have grown less likely to strike such agreements, community groups say.

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