What The NCC (NCC) Deal Says About Bank Balance Sheets

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NCC (NCC) was bought today by PNC in what most people would view as a classic "takeunder" The price of the deal was well below where the shares traded yesterday.

NCC’s stock is down 20% on the news. PNC will pay a total of $2.23 a share or $5.58 billion.

The government had a hand in the deal and probably even forced it. PNC says it received a $7.7 billion investment from the government, under its $750 billion bailout plan.

The amount of the write-offs when the deal is done will be extraordinary. PNC’s CEO said $19.9 billion of losses on the National City portfolio will come in as write-downs at the time the acquisition closes.

That says a great deal about major US bank balance sheets. Wachovia (WB) reported a third-quarter loss of $23.9 billion on Wednesday, which say a mouthful about that state of its financials. Under the provisions of its merger deal with Wells Fargo (WFC), it was required to fess up to everything bad it could find. According to Reuters, loan losses from Wachovia could hit $74 billion.

Odd that the really big write-offs only get exposed when these firms are bought. It is almost as if those banks which are still independent are moving a bit slowly in getting all of their cards onto the table.

Douglas A. McIntyre