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Bank failures can mean a hot deal

Marketplace Staff Mar 2, 2010

Bank failures can mean a hot deal

Marketplace Staff Mar 2, 2010


Bill Radke: Bank failures have become pretty common but they’re still dramatic. Regulators typically swoop in on a Friday night like a swat team and arrange a takeover by another bank. But what if the new owners don’t want to buy everything that’s for sale? Reporter Dan Bobkoff of WCPN in Cleveland tells us what happens to all that’s left behind.

Dan Bobkoff: There were 140 bank failures last year, the most since the savings and loan crisis two decades ago. That’s not great for the economy, but it’s very good news for anyone looking for a deal.

Penny Worley: It all has to go.

Penny Worley is president of Penny Worley auctioneers near Cincinnati. That’s one of the three auction houses with contracts from the FDIC to sell off all the leftover bits of failed banks.

Worley: Everything from a 56-foot yacht to high-tech conferencing systems, IT equipment, high-end furniture.

Worley and her competitors place these so-called “other assets” online for auction. The proceeds only go a small ways to make up the losses to the FDIC’s fund, but every bit helps.

Much of the furniture and computer equipment goes to small businesses. But Worley says some have other ideas.

Worley: There was an armored car in Florida that was being bid on by the owner of a strip club who had a clientele of rappers.

Jason Byers is one of the owners of Vegas Showgirls in St. Petersburg:

Jason Byers: They thought it was a really great concept to travel around in a armored car limo.

Byers lost out on the armored car, but he keeps bidding on other stuff.

Byers: I’ve bought fireproof filing cabinets, couches, TVs, safes, under-counter safes, big commercial safes, money counters.

Those are particularly useful when your business involves a lot of dollar bills.

Byers says more people know about the auctions now — it’s harder to get a real steal. But he still thinks it’s an opportunity.

Byers: I’m 45 years old. This is the last time I will ever see the banks collapse like they’re doing, so I gotta stock up on stuff that either I’m going to use, or and if I don’t, I just sell it off to somebody else.

Banks’ loss, Byers’s gain.

I’m Dan Bobkoff from Marketplace.

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