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Banker News

Krei: Community banks likely to consolidate
Milwaukee Business Journal
Wisconsin's community banks - those with $1 billion or less in assets - face multiple challenges that threaten to cause further consolidation in their industry, says Edward Krei of the Baker Group, of Oklahoma City. Krei was in Milwaukee this week as one of the speakers at the Wisconsin Bankers Association annual executives conference at The Pfister Hotel. Community banks in Wisconsin are in a similar situation to smaller banks nationwide, but were not as hard-hit by the real estate crash as banks in some other states. Community banks must both compete against larger banks and differentiating themselves from larger banks and the capital-raising dealmakers at investments banks, Krei said. It will be difficult for all community banks to survive the challenges Krei listed. He said there absolutely will be consolidation, which will especially hurt smaller communities. Milwaukee Business Journal

Head of state's new economic development group touts aggressive agenda
Wisconsin State Journal
The state's economic development arm is working on plans to boost Wisconsin exports, to help companies locate in Wisconsin and to provide funds for promising young companies, said Paul Jadin, chief executive of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Jadin said his goal is to double sales of Wisconsin products outside the U.S. by 2016. According to the most recent figures, Wisconsin companies sold $19.8 million worth of products in other countries in 2010. Jadin also said he is looking at expanding Wisconsin's presence around the world. A separate proposal would provide funding for early-stage Wisconsin companies. With limited venture capital available in the state, "that's one huge hole" in programs available to businesses, Jadin said. Details were not yet available. Wisconsin State Journal

$26B bank foreclosure fraud settlement to be announced today
Washington Post
Today, State and federal officials will announce a landmark settlement with five of the nation's banks over their flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices. The $26 billion deal, which officially will be unveiled at a 10 a.m. Department of Justice news conference, aims to help troubled borrowers by reducing the amount they owe on their mortgages, lowering their interest rates and paying restitution to homeowners who suffered mortgage-related abuses. If finalized, the agreement would mark the largest industry settlement since a multistate deal with tobacco companies in 1998. Negotiators maintained that they tried to narrowly tailor the legal releases in a way that would allow others to move forward with investigations of other mortgage abuses. The five banks at the heart of the settlement are Wells Fargo, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally Financial and Citigroup. Washington Post

U.S. House to move to protect bank information
House Republicans said they will soon move legislation that would make it more difficult for consumer advocates or other groups to obtain sensitive information that banks share with the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In a rare moment of political harmony over the bureau, some Democrats said they are on board with the change. Republican Shelley Moore Capito, chair of the House Financial Services subcommittee that oversees the bureau, said at the hearing that a bill providing the added protection, which already applies to other banking regulators, will be considered soon. Banks have been sounding alarms that due to an oversight by Congress when writing the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, some confidential information that institutions share with the bureau could be made public through legal challenges. Reuters

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