December 23, 2009 / 7:56 PM / 10 years ago

55 companies miss payment of TARP dividends: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fifty-five financial companies failed to pay dividends in November on money they borrowed from the U.S. government, bank research firm SNL said on Wednesday.

That number swelled from 33 companies that missed an August payment on government funds, according to an SNL analysis of government data.

The rising dividend deferrals signal that even as some banks are deemed healthy enough to repay the United States — Wells Fargo & Co, for example, said on Wednesday that it gave $25 billion back to the government — many others are struggling.

U.S. regulators have closed 140 banks this year, the most since 1992, as a real estate downturn and broader credit crunch have hobbled many banks’ balance sheets.

Twelve companies have missed at least three consecutive payments of dividends on funds borrowed under the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, SNL said.

The research firm said only one — Connecticut Bank and Trust Co — of the 33 companies that missed a dividend payment in August managed to pay in November. Another bank, Community Bank of the Bay, missed a payment in May, paid in August, and deferred again in November.

SNL said one company that had missed a TARP dividend payment in August — Commerce National Bank — repaid in October the full amount of the bailout funds it had received.

The 55 companies that missed payments received around $5.06 billion in funding under TARP, equal to 3.8 percent of the total funds spent under TARP’s capital purchase program as of November 18.

The government has said it expects to lose money from its TARP program.

TARP recipients are required to pay a dividend rate of 5 percent per year for the first five years, usually in four payments per year.

Under the program, the failure to pay dividends for six dividend periods triggers the Treasury’s right to elect two directors to the institution’s board, SNL said. The next TARP dividend payment date is scheduled for February 16.

The largest company to miss the latest TARP dividend payment was New York-based CIT Group Inc, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, wiping out its TARP obligations in the process.

Reporting by Juan Lagorio, editing by Gerald E. McCormick

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