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New Bank Failures Raise 2011 Tally to 70

As Americans vacationed over Labor Day weekend, the ""FDIC"":http://www.fdic.gov/ and other regulators found themselves swamped with new bank failures Friday, with the federal agency serving as receiver for two in Georgia. State regulators stepped in to shutter Cumming-based Patriot Bank of Georgia and Woodstock-based CreekSide Bank, signing off on a loss-share transaction that left Atlanta-based ""Georgia Commerce Bank"":http://www.gacommercebank.com/ as the sole acquirer.

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The ""Georgia Department of Banking and Finance"":http://dbf.georgia.gov/02/dbf/home/0,2477,43414745,00.html;jsessionid=5BC693013D81DEA497DDD1EB897177AA corralled Patriot and Creekside, which turned off the lights with about $150.8 million and $102.3 million in total assets, respectively. Regulators tallied up $111.2 million and $102.3 million in total deposits for Patriot and Creekside, also respectively, with Georgia Commerce rolling up its sleeves to cover a total $205.4 million of the institutions' assets.

Two branches under Creekside, along with another under Patriot, planned to reopen Tuesday under the Georgia Commerce name and brand. The bill for the FDIC: $71.7 million.

""The acquisition of these two established community banks allows Georgia Commerce Bank to expand our branch network and better serve the communities in the northern metropolitan area of Atlanta,"" Mark Tipton, CEO of Georgia Commerce, said in a ""statement"":http://www.gacommercebank.com/news.

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""We welcome our new customers and assure them that they will continue to receive the highest level of customer service for their personal and commercial banking needs,"" he said.

The collapse of Patriot and Creekside raises the national tally for bank failures to 70 this year, with Georgia leading the country in collapsed institutions.

The failures follow a series of reactions to trends by House lawmakers, particularly ""Rep. Lynn Westmoreland"":http://westmoreland.house.gov/ (R-Georgia), who helped organize a field hearing in Georgia to address the impact of regulation on banks in his home state in August.

Commenting on the hearing results, Westmoreland said in a ""statement"":http://westmoreland.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=256219 that ""regulators on the ground are either ignoring the warning signs or, because of their lack of industry experience, aren't aware of these signs. Either way, it seems to me that federal regulators are not actually addressing problems at the earliest possible stage.""

Asked what the rise in bank failures means for Georgia, LaJuan Williams, a spokesperson with the FDIC, chalks up increased scrutiny by House lawmakers to ""just criticism ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô just the reaction to the number of bank failures"" that have occurred in the state since the financial crisis.

""We still look at the same criteria for banks: market sensitivities, capital, and earnings,"" she tells _MReport_. ""Times have changed and the market has changed, but we don't change the way we examine a bank in any region particularly, let alone├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª Georgia banks since├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª that region of the market has been hit pretty hard lately.""

Georgia Commerce seemed to welcome the changes.

Added Tipton: ""We want to assure the customers of these banks that their deposits are safe, sound and readily accessible. Georgia Commerce Bank is one of the strongest banks in Georgia, with a sound balance sheet and very strong capital ratios.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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