We're All Banks Now

Hartford Financial asks to be an S&L

by Conde Nast's Portfolio.com Staff
November 14, 2008

In a sign of how far we have come from the last banking fiasco, the S&L fiasco of the early 1990’s, as how as how deep the current financial crisis is, one of the nation’s biggest insurance companies wants to become a savings and loan.

The Hartford Financial Services Group has applied to the Office of Thrift Supervision to become a savings and loan holding company.  The move will let Hartford apply for money under the Treasury Department’s Tarp program.

The Treasury official spearheading Tarp, Neel Kashkari, told Congress today that the department was about to approve applications from 20 banks.

The promise of new capital for Hartford sent its shares surging more than 30 percent in the last minutes of trading.

As part of its conversion, Hartford is acquiring a small savings bank, the parent of the Federal Trust Bank, for $10 million.

“We are taking these actions as a strong and well-capitalized financial institution looking for maximum flexibility and stability,” said Ramani Ayer, The Hartford’s chief executive.

Other insurers may soon follow, including Genworth Financial.

Both MetLife and Allstate already own an S&L, so getting new status would be easier for them.

Copyright © 2008 FBIC (www.badfaithinsurance.org)

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