On November 21, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) conditionally approved a national bank “shelf charter,” designed to “facilitate new equity investments in troubled depository institutions.”  

According to the terms of the conditional approval, investors have preliminary approval to establish a national bank although the charter will remain “on the shelf,” or inactive, until such time as the investor group attempts to acquire a troubled institution. The shelf charter concept permits investors to position themselves to acquire troubled institutions and clears such investors to view the list of failing or troubled institutions maintained by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in order to submit bids. If a bid is accepted by the FDIC, final charter approval can be granted by the OCC together with final approval of deposit insurance by the FDIC.

The OCC believes that shelf charters will expand the “pool of potential buyers available to buy troubled institutions, and in particular the new equity capital available to bid on troubled institutions” through the FDIC’s bid process.  

The first shelf charter was granted to Ford Group Bank, National Association on November 17.