April 20 (Reuters) - A growing number of U.S. banks are repaying or planning to repay the bailout money they received from the government as they seek to escape the restrictions that come with the funds.
Some banks have also said they believe repayment of the funds signals their management's confidence in their capital levels.
While the funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, were mostly intended for banks weakened by the credit crunch, a significant portion of the $700 billion fund went to banks that described themselves as well capitalized.
Five of these banks have already repaid all the bailout funds they received, while some others said they plan to repay the money and have applied for permission to do so.
Some experts say regulators, mindful of their role in keeping the financial system healthy, may not be too keen to let banks repay government funds soon. [ID:nN08512860]
BANKS THAT REPAID TARP MONEY
* Signature Bank (SBNY.O), based in New York, which has assets worth more than $7 billion, said it repaid $120 million it received from the U.S. Treasury on March 31.
* Old National Bancorp ONB.N, based in Evansville, Indiana, which has assets of more than $7 billion, said on March 31 it repaid $100 million in TARP funds.
* IberiaBank (IBKC.O), based in Louisiana, with total assets of more than $5 billion, said on March 31 it repaid $90 million.
* Bank of Marin Bancorp (BMRC.O), based in California, which holds assets of $1 billion, said on March 31 it repaid $28 million.
* Sun Bancorp (SNBC.O), based in Vineland, New Jersey, with total assets of more than $3 billion, said on April 8 it repaid $89.3 million.
BANKS THAT PLAN TO REPAY FUNDS
* TCF Financial Corp (TCB.N), based in Wayzata, Minnesota, with total assets of $16 billion, said on April 20 it got approval from the U.S. Treasury to pay back $361.2 million it received as TARP funds.
* FirstMerit Corp (FMER.O), based in Akron, Ohio, with total assets of more than $11 billion, said on April 16 it filed a notice with the U.S. Treasury to repay $125 million.
* First Niagara Financial Group Inc (FNFG.O), based in Lockport, New York, with assets of more than $9 billion, said on April 13 it plans to repay $184 million to the U.S. Treasury, and is in talks with regulators.
* Shore Bancshares Inc (SHBI.O), based in Easton, Maryland, said on March 26 it filed a notice with the U.S. Treasury to pay back $25 million.
* Somerset Hills Bancorp SOMH.O, based in Bernardsville, New Jersey, said on April 2 it filed a notice with the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pay back $7.4 million it received in TARP funds. (Reporting by Adheesha Sarkar in Bangalore)