Definitions

Bank holding company

Bank holding company

A bank holding company is a company with significant ownership of one or more banks.

United States

A bank holding company, under the laws of the United States, is any entity that directly or indirectly owns, controls, or has the power to vote 25% or more of a class of securities of a U.S. bank. Bank holding companies are required to register with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Bank holding companies are subject to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (en:et seq.).

Regulation

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors, under Regulation Y (12 C.F.R. Pt. 225) has responsibility for regulating and supervising bank holding company activities, such as establishing capital standards, approving mergers and acquisitions and inspecting the operations of such companies. This authority applies even though a bank owned by a holding company may be under the primary supervision of the Comptroller of the Currency or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Bank holding company status

New or smaller banks often re-structure themselves into bank holding companies to take advantage of the greater financial flexibility this corporate and legal status permits. Becoming a bank holding company makes it easier for the firm to raise capital than as a traditional bank. The holding company can assume debt of shareholders on a tax free basis, borrow money, acquire other banks and non-bank entities more easily, and issue stock with greater regulatory ease. It also has a greater legal authority to conduct share repurchases of own stock.

The downside includes responding to an additional regulatory authorities, especially if there are more than 300 shareholders, at which point the bank holding company is forced to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. There are also added expenses of operating with an extra layer of administration.

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