There's a lot of cabbage in corn country. Just ask First Midwest Bancorp, the holding company for First Midwest Bank. Through about 100 branches, the bank mainly serves suburban Chicago, though its market extends into central and western Illinois and neighboring portions of Iowa and Indiana. Focusing on area small to midsized businesses, it offers deposit products, loans, trust services, wealth management, insurance, and retirement plan services; it has more than $5 billion of client trust and investment assets under management. Commercial real estate loans account for more than half of the company's portfolio; commercial and industrial loans are around a third.
Illustrative of its commitment to business lending, First Midwest Bank does not originate subprime residential mortgages or retail credit card loans, and one- to four-family residential mortgages account for less than 5% of its portfolio. The company does have a significant amount of nonperforming residential construction loans, particularly raw land loans, on its books, but its delinquency rates have declined since 2008.
Not coincidentially, First Midwest suffered losses each year from 2008 to 2010, but returned to profitability in 2011, reporting earnings of some $25.4 million on revenues of more than $423 million as its credit quality continued to improve. It hopes to keep the momentum going by focusing on niche lending and fee-generating activities such as wealth and treasury management.
First Midwest has capitalized on the rash of bank failures that have occurred in the Chicago area amid the recessionary economy. Its relative financial soundness put it in a position to acquire three failed Illinois banks through separate FDIC-facilitated transactions in 2009 and 2010: First DuPage Bank, Peotone Bank and Trust, and Palos Bank and Trust. The deals, which included loss-sharing agreements with the regulator, added a total of nearly 10 branches. In 2012 the company acquired the deposits and loans of Waukegan Savings Bank in another FDIC-assisted deal that added two more branches to its network. First Midwest will continue to consider acquisitions of failed banks in the Chicago area. – less