Texas banks call off merger, citing coronavirus impact

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Texas Capital Bancshares TCBI.O and Independent Bank Group IBTX.O called off their merger on Tuesday, saying the coronavirus pandemic has hit markets too hard and crushed the benefits of tying up.

The merger of these two Texas lenders would have created the second-largest bank by assets in the Lone Star state. They joined a slew of U.S. regional banks consolidating to share technology costs and soften the sting of low interest rates.

But since they announced the deal in December, the world has been hit by the novel coronavirus, which has killed nearly 100,000 people in the United States alone and led to government-imposed lockdowns of major metropolises. [GRAPHICS LINK]

While Texas has been looser than other states in applying quarantine measures, it still faces a sharp uptick in unemployment, with its energy sector hit hard by plunging oil prices. Among U.S. banks, Texas Capital has one of the highest concentrations of oil and gas loans in its loan book.

Market volatility has also hurt companies’ ability to transact. Stock prices have plunged and soared as corporate bond markets have suffered price disparities, giving companies shaky currency to finance deals. Bank stocks have come under particular pressure as investors worry about the harm they will face during the coronavirus-fueled recession.

Texas Capital and Independent Bank Group had structured the deal as a merger of equals, but Texas Capital shareholders would control 55% of the combined entity as the larger bank by assets. Independent Bank’s David Brooks was slated to run the combined entity.

Texas Capital Chief Executive C. Keith Cargill stepped down on Tuesday, with Chairman Larry Helm taking over his role until a permanent successor is appointed. Brooks is still in charge of Independent Bank.

Independent Bank shares ended 15.9% higher, while Texas Capital’s stock lost 3.6%.

Reporting by David French in New York; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Dan Grebler