"It's clearly not helpful to poke your primary regulator in the face with a stick," says an investment banker who works on bank acquisition deals. He's referring to 80-year old M&T Bank (MTB -0.1%) boss Robert Wilmers. After guiding his bank through the financial crisis without cutting the dividend or reporting a quarterly loss, Wilmers has been critical of regulatory overreach, arguing smaller lenders are suffering for the mistakes of the TBTF banks.
Today marks the 2-year anniversary of the M&T/Hudson City (HCBK -0.4%) merger announcement, a deal which continues to be held up because of Fed concerns over M&T's money-laundering compliance, but maybe regulators are just making an example of Mr. Wilmers.
In any case, the 2-year and counting delay has put a chill on the merger market for banks. Since the beginning of 2013, at least 10 lenders hoping to complete deals have instead been forced to move back planned closing dates. Among those, ViewPoint Financial (VPFG -0.3%) has a merger agreement expiring this weekend, and BancorpSouth (BXS -0.3%) dropped its request to buy two banks earlier this month after weaknesses were found in its money-laundering program (it plans to refile for approval after cleaning this up).
For its part, M&T has spent vast quantities trying to come into compliance and at latest check is still hopeful on closing the purchase before year's end.