Compass Bank bought by Banco Bilbao for $9.6B

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

Compass Bank has been purchased by Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A as part of a $9.6 billion cash and stock deal.

The transaction is expected to close during the fourth-quarter of this year.

Compass Bank, which is based in Birmingham, Ala., has 415 locations from Arizona to Florida, including one Colorado Springs location and 10 metro Denver locations. No disruptions in day-to-day operations are expected.

Banco Bilbao has been purchasing Southern U.S. banks lately, recently acquiring two Texas regional banks.

Bank chairman Francisco Gonzalez wants to form the largest regional banking area in the U.S. Sunbelt. Banco Bilbao has 7,500 branches in 35 countries.

IRS cracks down on cheats

The IRS is cracking down on tax preparation businesses that take advantage of the telephone excise tax refund.

IRS criminal investigators served search warrants in Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Riverside, Calif., and Dallas, Tyler and Athens, Texas. Some filers have claimed as much as $30,000.

The tax preparation offices were temporarily closed and documents and computers were seized as part of the investigation.

Auditors and special agents also are visiting tax preparation businesses throughout the United States that have made questionable telephone tax refund requests.

To make the process easier, the government established a standard refund amount, between $30 and $60. If the filer has saved records, an exact amount can be refunded.

The IRS will hold refunds and might subject filers to an audit if it thinks the refund is being abused.

For more information about the refund, visit the Telephone Excise Refund Section on the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov.

Wells Fargo gets top rating

Wells Fargo Bank N.A. is the only U.S. bank to receive the highest credit rating from both S&P and Moody’s, going from N.A. to AAA.

The long-term credit rating of Wells Fargo & Co.’s senior debt was raised to AA. Its core profitability, strong capital measures, conservative risk management, stable net interest margin, balanced business model and consistency of core profitability were cited as reasons for the ranking.

There are more than 1,100 financial institutions and 70 national banking systems covered by S&P globally.

There are 14 Well’s Fargo branches in the Pikes Peak region and nearly 150 in Colorado.

Ex-Monster lawyer in trouble

Myron F. Olesnyckyj, the former general council of Monster Worldwide Inc., has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with securities fraud for allegedly backdating options for Monster employees, officers and directors — including himself.

According to the SEC, as a result of backdating and inappropriately accounting for options, Monster overstated its net income by $340 million from 1997 through 2005, failed to recognize compensation expenses and granted undisclosed compensation to its employees.

Investor confidence good

Investor confidence is good, according to the State Street Global Investor Confidence index.

Riding high on the notion that interest rates will soon drop, State Street raised the American index to 90.4 in February, up from 85.2 in January. Confidence in North American institutional investors was up from 94.9 to 101.7.

The index analyzes buying patterns of institutional investors.

Confidence of European and Asian investors was about the same.

No more deals for BofA CEO

Bank of America CEO Kenneth D. Lewis says he’s not seeking any more acquisitions.

The bank has made more than $1.46 trillion in purchases during the last four years, more than doubling its value.

Lewis said he will focus on selling credit cards and corporate bonds abroad, and on U.S. residential and small business lending.

FDIC issues consumer report

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has released a special edition of its Consumer News entitled “Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be in Charge.”

The publication includes information about becoming financially fit, avoiding bad deals and scams — including fake checks, protecting deposits with FDIC insurance, and complaining effectively and getting results.

The FDIC said that it receives hundreds of e-mails, letters and calls from consumers daily and wanted to address the issues that are brought to its attention and provide tips that might come in handy when dealing with financial issues.

The special edition coincided with National Consumer Protection Week, which was Feb. 4-10.

The FDIC encourages consumers to call (877) ASK-FDIC or visit www.fdic.com for more information about how to avoid fraud and make smart buying decisions.

More money for investors

The Securities Exchange Commission is cutting the fees that investors pay.

Fees on securities transactions will be reduced by 50.2 percent while fees to register securities with the commission will be reduced by 71.3 percent.

Lorna Gutierrez covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.