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Iowa Institution On Verge of Collapse

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A $500 million Iowa bank reported a huge loss, lost its chief executive officer and warned about its ability to continue in business.

An $18 million second-quarter loss was reported Tuesday by First Federal Bankshares Inc. Earnings actually improved from a $22 million loss a year ago.

The Sioux City-based institution attributed $12 million of the latest loss to other-than-temporary impairments on pooled trust preferred collateralized-debt obligations. In addition, a $9 million devaluation of deferred tax assets was taken.

On May 10, First Federal said the Office of Thrift Supervision issued a prompt corrective action against subsidiary Vantus Bank — which was considered significantly undercapitalized. The bank consented to a cease-and-desist order on July 31 requiring a capital increase plan.

Several private equity groups are reportedly considering a capital infusion — though that would substantially dilute existing shareholder equity.

Levon Mathews, president and CEO of both First Federal and Vantus, notified the company on Aug. 10 that he would resign on Sept. 25 to become president and CEO of another financial institution that doesn’t operate in the market area Vantus operates in.

First Federal warned that uncertainty about its ability to raise capital levels combined with the regulatory actions has led the expectation that its “independent registered public accounting firm may express substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern in the auditors’ report contained within the company’s annual report on Form 10-K.”

Vantus was founded in 1923 and reported $504 million in assets as of June 30.

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