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Former Trump official backs troubled US bank

source: BBC NEWS

The man who led the US Treasury under former president Donald Trump, is taking a stake in a troubled regional US bank.

New York Community Bank said Steven Mnuchin was part of a group from which it had raised more than $1bn (£790m).

It is looking to shore up confidence after facing pressure over risks tied to its property loans.

Its share has price dropped more than 60% since late January, when it revealed unexpected losses.

The sell-off in shares accelerated last week, when the firm said it had uncovered “material weaknesses” in its processes for reviewing loans and shook up its leadership.

On Wednesday, the bank said it had raised money by selling shares to a group of firms, including Mr Mnuchin’s Liberty Strategic Capital.

It also named former bank regulator Joseph Otting as new chief executive, its third since January.

The bank, which according to the Federal Reserve was the 28th largest in the US at the end of last year with more than $80bn in deposits, has grown rapidly from a local lender into a large player in mortgages and other property loans, including to owners of rent-stabilised apartments.

Last year, it purchased some of the holdings of Signature Bank, which failed and was seized by the US government in a spasm of banking panic.

Ex US bank bosses call collapse ‘unprecedented’

New York Community Bank, as a bigger operation, is required to set aside greater sums to guard against potential losses from loans going bad. Moves to comply with those obligations contributed to the losses it disclosed in January.

Mr Mnuchin founded his private equity firm, Liberty Strategic Capital, at the end of his time with the Trump administration in 2021.

Before working at the White House, he was known for taking over IndyMac, a major bank that failed in the 2008 financial crisis, which he later sold at a large profit.

Mr Mnuchin said his firm was “mindful of the bank’s credit risk profile” when it committed $450m to take a stake in the firm.

“With the over $1bn of capital invested in the Bank, we believe we now have sufficient capital should reserves need to be increased in the future,” he said.

The turmoil at New York Community Bank has been closely watched, as analysts say many other lenders with exposure to office and apartment property loans could face issues in the coming months.

An estimated 14% of all loans and 44% of office loans in the US are now tied to properties worth less than their outstanding debt balance, a recent paper estimated.

The troubles come as a sharp decline in property values sparked by the pandemic coincides with a rise in borrowing costs.

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