NYCB stock plunges amid report of attempted capital raise

The stock of New York Community Bank (NYCB) plunged again Wednesday following a report that it is seeking to raise capital, highlighting the many challenges facing the commercial real estate lender as it struggles to regain investor confidence.

The price of its stock fell as much as 45% after the Wall Street Journal reported that NYCB had dispatched bankers to find investors willing to buy stock in the company. It is now down more than 80% since January.

NYCB’s stock first began falling on Jan. 31 when it surprised analysts by slashing its dividend and setting aside more for loan losses.

The turmoil intensified again last week after it disclosed the exit of CEO Thomas Cangemi, weaknesses in its internal controls, and a tenfold increase in its fourth quarter loss to $2.7 billion.

The Hicksville, N.Y.-based lender now has three options, according to Chris Marinac, an analyst for Janney who covers the bank.

It can sell assets, raise capital or share the risk of some assets with outside investors via a financial instrument known as a credit risk transfer.

The dilemma facing New York Community Bancorp comes roughly one year after the fall of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, seizures that triggered widespread panic among depositors.

Now there are new fears that mounting commercial real estate weaknesses could ripple through other banks, causing a new set of problems.

Fed chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the commercial real estate exposures banks face are “manageable” but that there “there will be losses” among some lenders.

The Fed, he told lawmakers during a hearing in Washington, is in touch with banks to make sure they have enough liquidity and capital to absorb any losses.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell appears before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell appeared before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“I am confident we are doing the right things. I do believe it is manageable problem. If that changes I will say so.”

NYCB played the role of rescuer during last year’s crisis, agreeing to absorb assets from Signature that had been seized by regulators. But that also pushed NYCB above $100 billion in assets, a threshold that brought heightened scrutiny from regulators.

NYCB has said those tighter requirements are what led to the decision to slash its dividend and set aside more for future loan losses.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08: A New York Community Bank stands in Brooklyn on February 08, 2024 in New York City.  New York Community Bancorp, a regional lender, shed about 60% of its value over the past eight days and its credit rating has been downgraded to Junk by Moody's. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08: A New York Community Bank stands in Brooklyn on February 08, 2024 in New York City.  New York Community Bancorp, a regional lender, shed about 60% of its value over the past eight days and its credit rating has been downgraded to Junk by Moody's. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A New York Community Bank branch in Brooklyn. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

It set aside $552 million, well above estimates, to account for weaknesses tied to office properties and multifamily apartments. NYCB is a big lender to rent-regulated apartments in New York City.

Investors expect the company to raise common equity, Marinac said in a note this week, perhaps before trying to sell any assets. The panic at Silicon Valley Bank started last March after the bank sold assets at a loss, making it more difficult to raise the needed capital.

“If you sell assets, you’re taking losses so you’re better off to have capital in place before you sell assets,” Marinac said.

David Hollerith is a senior reporter for Yahoo Finance covering banking, crypto, and other areas in finance.

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