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State takes over First Lowndes Bank

Lowndes Bank

Law enforcement and FDIC agents move to close First Lowndes Bank.

FORT DEPOSIT – The First Lowndes Bank, which does business in Butler, Crenshaw and Lowndes counties, became the latest addition to the FDIC’s failed bank list.

The takeover occurred shortly after the bank closed today. First Citizens Bank of Luverne is set to take over all of First Lowndes’ accounts.

Twenty-seven banks have failed since January 1 of this year. First Lowndes is the first Alabama-based bank to be closed in 2010.

Roberta Valdez, spokesperson for the FDIC, said bank customers should not panic.

“The basic message for customers is business as usual,” Valdez said. “You can still use your ATM and Check cards from First Lowndes Bank until First Citizens notifies them otherwise.”

First Lowndes Bank first moved to the area in 1984. Since opening, the bank has become the main financial player in the tri-county area.

The FDIC maintains records on market share of deposits for all FDIC-insured institutions. This data gives a percentage of all deposits by institution, effectively providing a snapshot of a bank’s customer base. As of June 30, 2009, the most recent data available, 23.9 percent of deposits in the tri-county area were in First Lowndes Bank.

Banktrust, with 14.27 percent of the tri-county area, is the next largest bank by deposit market share.

The FDIC document “When A Bank Fails”, available on the corporation’s Web site, says that banks are generally closed when it is “unable to meet obligations to depositors.”

The document also described the FDIC’s role in a take over. First, the FDIC stands as insurer of the bank’s deposits. Deposits covered by the insurance limits are repaid in full.

Clearly present at the top of the document, in bolded text, is the FDIC’s announcement that “No customer has ever lost a single penny of insured deposits.”

The FDIC also acts as “receiver” of the bank. If a healthy bank is set to merge with failing institution, the FDIC will take inventory of all its money and assets in preparation of the bank changing hands.

Over the weekend, the FDIC will work to insure First Lowndes bank reopens under its new name on Monday.

Customers with accounts under the insured $250,000 limit will not lose these funds.

More information about the takeover can be found at www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/banklist. This document will include the address and contact information for those wishing to file a claim against the bank.

The Signal will post more information as it becomes available.