U.S. objects to bid to buy First Place Bank

U.S. objects to bid to buy First Place Bank

The United States, on behalf of the U.S. Treasury Department, recently filed an objection against Michigan-based Talmer Bancorp’s bid to purchase First Place Bank, as its parent company, First Place Financial Corp., proceeds with Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Documents filed on Tuesday show the Treasury is objecting to the $45 million bid, calling it too low and raising concerns that the department will be left holding $72.9 million in debt paid to the bank in 2009 under the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, initiated at the height of the financial meltdown to rescue failing banks.

The Treasury is asking the court to slow down the “expedited nature of the sale proceedings” so that it can gather more information. It is also asking for consultation rights and a right to attend auction, if need be.

The proceedings are now garnering national attention, with the revelation that W.L. Ross & Co., owned by the billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, is Talmer Bancorp’s leading investor, holding 24 percent of the companies shares.

Ross made his fortune as an opportunity investor known for buying steel companies when no one else would and guiding other businesses through the restructuring process.

In 2008, seeing a chance to further profits at the height of the recession, his firm moved in on the mortgage industry, scooping up servicing companies at bottom dollar.

On Monday, officials with Talmer dismissed the latest developments by saying that delays were to be expected during the bankruptcy.

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