- Ally Financial and CardWorks are terminating their planned $2.65 billion merger, the companies announced Wednesday in a press release. The companies cited "the unprecedented economic and market conditions resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic."
- Neither company will incur termination or breakup fees, Ally said.
- The coronavirus has scuttled or delayed several mergers, acquisitions and agreements this year, including Suncoast Credit Union's planned acquisition of Apollo Bank.
Wednesday's announcement ends what had been the second-largest bank acquisition announced this year, behind South State Bank and CenterState Bank's "merger of equals" proposed in January.
"This was a difficult decision to make following a long process to bring two strong companies together," Ally CEO Jeffrey Brown said in a press release Wednesday. "Ally's long-term strategic priorities remain intact, rooted in a relentless focus on our customers."
The merger, announced in February, came at a time of transition for the $183 billion-asset Ally. The bank ended its three-year partnership with TD Bank last July, saying the tie-up wasn't meeting expectations. Ally focused instead of point-of-sale loans.
It bought Health Credit Services, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based company that offers unsecured loans to finance medical procedures, for $190 million. "We've been interested in the unsecured space, and this was an ability to acquire a really nice platform at a relatively inexpensive price. And we'll seek to grow it from there," Brown said in July.
CardWorks, a Woodbury, New York-based subprime credit card lender, fits the unsecured servicing mold as well, though it also offers recreational and marine consumer finance loans. It is the parent company of Merrick Bank and has $2.9 billion in deposits.
When the CardWorks deal was announced, Brown called it "an important milestone in Ally's evolution to be a full-service financial provider." The deal had been expected to close in the third quarter.
"This acquisition directly aligns with our strategic priorities to relentlessly focus on providing our customers with a differentiated banking experience, while affording opportunities to scale our product offerings and accelerate the progress of our earnings growth," Brown said in February.
The Ally merger is not even the latest deal to be disrupted by the coronavirus. Arbor Bancorp and FNBH Bancorp in Michigan announced Thursday that they, too, were terminating a merger they announced in February.
“Like we have done before during periods of heightened economic risk and uncertainty, we believe it’s warranted to play defense and take an internal-focused approach to our business right now,” Arbor President and CEO Tim Marshall said in a press release.
The coronavirus also halted a proposed merger between Independent Bank and Texas Capital, and nixed a deal to combine Wisconsin’s Nicolet Bankshares and Commerce Financial Holdings. It also spurred Bank of Southern California to reduce its all-cash offer to buy CalWest by 18% after shareholders adjourned an April meeting without approving the deal.
First Horizon Bank in April delayed its acquisition of 30 Truist branches — a condition of the BB&T-SunTrust merger that created Truist — until the third quarter. The pandemic also slowed the regulatory review of Puerto Rican bank First BanCorp’s $1.1 billion deal to buy Santander’s retail and commercial lending operations on the island.
The outbreak hasn’t served as a death knell for every deal, though. Provident Bank CEO Chris Martin said last month he has no intention to halt or delay his bank’s planned $208.9 million acquisition of SB One Bank.
"When we announced the deal, the market was getting hammered," Martin told Banking Dive. "We tried to articulate to shareholders that it's a great opportunity for everybody, it's accretive. It'll be bringing together two companies that are strong, bringing management succession, increasing the market share. And we're going to be better together than separate, so why not continue?"