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Officials with Asheville Savings Bank soon could turn the depositor-owned regional bank into a publicly-traded one, with an initial stock offering projected to net up to nearly $70.4 million for the five-county institution.
Recently released documents show that Asheville Savings Bank members will vote on Sept. 22 whether to authorize the move by the Asheville-based bank, which is also subject to review by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the N.C. Commissioner of Banks.
If all approvals are granted, Asheville Savings Bank will become a wholly owned subsidiary of a newly formed holding company, ASB Bancorp, Inc., which will initially offer up to 7.245 million shares of stock, at $10 per share, to account holders. A community stock offering could come later, bank documents say. Currently, the bank has a mutual form of ownership, where the depositors are the owners.
Both the bank’s executives and board of directors will remain in charge of the bank and the holding company. “There are no planned changes to the board of directors, management, staff or banking center offices at this time,” according to bank documents.
The bank is headquartered in downtown Asheville and has 12 branches in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, McDowell and Transylvania counties. Chartered in 1936, according to the N.C. Commissioner of Banks, it is known regionally for being one of the first places those needing loans to buy a home for the first time or start a small business approach for help.
In a release from last March, officials said the conversion would not interrupt deposits or its loan programs.
“Similarly,” the release said, “the conversion will not affect borrowers’ loans from the Bank, including the amount, rate, maturity, security and other contractual terms. “It should be business as usual,” other bank documents say.
Officials with Asheville Savings Bank did not respond to multiple requests from Carolina Public Press for comment.
But bank documents add that the institution is pursuing the change to “support future branching activities and/or the acquisition of other financial institutions or financial services companies,” among other reasons.
As of June 30, Asheville Savings Bank had $755 million in total assets, with total deposits of $617 million and total equity capital of $65.5 million. Information on the bank with the FDIC also shows that the bank has 165 employees.
Those with questions about the stock offering can call the company’s information hotline at (877) 860-2070, or visit the stock information center at 901 Smoky Park Highway in Candler.
ASB depositors are being asked to submit their proxies in favor of the bank’s conversion to a stock company. Such a plan only benefits bank management who will over time receive stock grants and stock options.
As a publicly traded company, ASB will then become an acquisition target for a bank such as BB&T or SunTrust. Acquisition generally occur at a share price premium over the current price. And guess who benefits in that scenario? Stockholders (read ‘management’) will be able to cash out and ride off into the sunset.
And who do you think will lose? The depositors since there is no large bank that will allow ASB to pay 1.75% on a checking account, such as the bank’s current World’s Best Checking account pays.
So wise up depositors and vote against this management enrichment program.