New owners lead once-ailing bank to 1Q turnaround

By William Hamilton
PBN Staff Writer
Twitter: @waham
What a difference a change in name and ownership can make. More

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BANKING

New owners lead once-ailing bank to 1Q turnaround

By William Hamilton
PBN Staff Writer
Twitter: @waham
Posted 7/4/11

What a difference a change in name and ownership can make.

Admirals Bank, the Cranston bank formerly known as Domestic Bank, posted a $640,000 profit for the first quarter of 2011, a significant improvement over the $129,000 loss it recorded in the same period a year earlier.

The troubled, family-run Domestic was purchased last May by a Boston-based, private-equity firm – Federal One Holdings LLC – which promised to pump money and management resources into the bank. It also changed the name to Admirals Bank – a nod to Rhode Island’s maritime heritage – shedding the institution’s last connections to the Baker family that founded Domestic Bank in 1967.

The difference is visible on the balance sheet. The assets of Admirals, which purchased four former Millennium Bank branches in Massachusetts, have climbed nearly 50 percent in the last year, from $234.06 million to $345.01 million.

At the same time, the bank’s mortgage-loan portfolio has ballooned from $61.87 million to $161.32 million. That’s largely the result of a wholesale loan-acquisition program that new owners instituted after taking over last year.

Admirals wasn’t the only local bank to experience a strong start to 2011.

RBS Citizens, the holding company for Citizens Bank, swung to profitability in the 2011 first quarter, posting a $66.21 million profit after losing $61.68 million in the first quarter last year before write-downs and loan charge-offs.

And publicly traded Webster Financial Corp., the holding company for Waterbury, Conn.-based Webster Bank, said its bottom line moved from a $6.07 million loss in the 2010 first quarter to $33.47 million in the black for the same period this year.

Also, Bancorp Rhode Island, parent of Bank Rhode Island, and Washington Trust Bancorp, the parent of The Washington Trust Co., reported increased profits in the first quarter, compared with a year earlier. Newport Bancorp, the publicly traded parent of NewportFed, said its first-quarter net income climbed from $101,000 in 2010 to $301,000 in 2011, in part because of a $217,000 loss a year earlier on the sale of securities that did not occur in the 2011 first quarter.

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