Ranieri's Franklin Bank Faces SEC Inquiry, May Seek a Buyer

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by ASusilovic, May 20, 2008.

  1. Franklin Bank Corp., the Texas bank led by mortgage bond pioneer Lewis Ranieri, may seek a buyer after an internal probe of lending practices led to the removal of a top executive and sparked an inquiry by federal regulators.

    Ranieri, chairman of the Houston-based bank and former vice chairman of Salomon Brothers Inc., is the interim chief executive officer now that Anthony Nocella has been ousted, the bank said late yesterday. A 10-week internal probe found ``accounting errors'' tied to real-estate loans, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating, Franklin said.

    ``They have a lot of people in there talking to them'' about a takeover, mainly private-equity groups, Daniel Bass, a managing director in Houston for investment bank Carson-Medlin Co., said in an interview yesterday before the disclosure. ``There's value there, but there are too many unknowns. I don't think a Texas bank would touch it because there's too much risk.''

    Franklin's stock has plunged more than 90 percent during the last 12 months of Nasdaq trading. That's not what investors expected when Ranieri, now 71, formed the company in 2002. He had helped turn New York-based Salomon into Wall Street's most profitable firm during the 1980s by being one of the first to package mortgages and sell them as securities, and he tripled investors' money on a previous Texas bank that he led.

    The internal investigation had earlier prompted the company's banking unit to amend its past three quarterly reports required by regulators. Franklin hasn't filed its holding company's first-quarter financial statement because of the investigation and earlier this month said its previously released fourth-quarter report -- which included a $66 million loss -- can't be relied upon.


    Accounting errors ? Ha, ha, ha...:D :D :D