70 Colorado banks have high rate of bad loans

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A bank research firm says the number of Colorado financial institutions with high levels of delinquent loans has jumped from 13 three years ago to 70 today.

About 36 percent of the 195 Colorado banks that Bauer Financial Inc. firm tracks have high levels of bad loans, meaning the banks’ nonperforming loans are 3 percent or more of average assets. The U.S. rate is 29 percent, Bauer Financial research director Karen Dorway said.

The bank with the highest concentration of loans that were 90 days or more overdue by the end of 2009 was Pueblo Bank and Trust, with 18 percent of its assets. Next were Park State Bank & Trust of Woodland Park and FirsTier of Louisville, each with delinquent loans representing 13 percent of assets.

In recent months, regulators have directed those banks and at least three others with the highest levels of distressed loans to improve their credit practices, particularly in the handling of loans for commercial real estate. That market has been hit hard by the recession.

Pueblo Bank and Trust President Bill Tandy said his bank has been raising more capital – it has at least $40 million – to absorb potential losses.

Earlier this year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported data showing a third of the state’s banks lost money in 2009.

Colorado has gone more than a year without a full-time banking commissioner to oversee regulation of banks. State officials say a commissioner will be hired “shortly.”

Associated Press