Bank Watch

CommunityOne Bancorp posts lower 4th-quarter profit

CommunityOne Bancorp President and CEO Bob Reid stands outside the Charlotte company’s headquarters.
CommunityOne Bancorp President and CEO Bob Reid stands outside the Charlotte company’s headquarters. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

CommunityOne Bancorp on Friday reported its fourth-quarter profit fell sharply from a year ago, when an accounting step gave a large boost to its earnings.

The Charlotte-based parent company of CommunityOne Bank recorded profit of $356,000, or 1 cent per share. A year ago, profit totaled $144.6 million, or $6.62 a share.

Its higher earnings a year earlier reflected an accounting move the company was able to take after posting a string of profitable quarters. That move provided a $142.5 million benefit to its fourth-quarter 2014 results.

In the recent fourth quarter, profit excluding such nonrecurring items was $2.7 million, up 16 percent from a year earlier.

CommunityOne increased its interest income by about 4 percent and its non-interest income by about 10 percent, as its loans and other assets grew.

But expenses rose from a year ago, partly from its pending merger with Raleigh-based Capital Bank.

“I continue to be very pleased with our financial trends in the fourth quarter which resulted in our core net income of $10.7 million in 2015, up 43 percent over 2014,” Bob Reid, CommunityOne president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our whole team worked hard to generate these improved financial results and I could not be prouder of what we accomplished this past year.”

Also during the quarter, CommunityOne filed a motion in federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed in August by investors over a $40 million Ponzi scheme.

The more than 30 investors sued CommunityOne four years after the lender was accused by the U.S. government of failing to report the scheme operated through accounts at the bank. The U.S. government later had its charge against CommunityOne dismissed in exchange for the bank implementing required anti-money laundering measures.

CommunityOne claimed in court papers it filed earlier this month that the investors’ suit should be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds. CommunityOne also says the investors fail to demonstrate that there was any agreement between the bank and the scheme’s chief operator to commit acts of racketeering.

In the Charlotte market, CommunityOne is the 10th-largest bank by deposits.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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