Last week, e3bank's Chairman Sandy Wiggins and President/CEO Frank Baldassarre announced tactical changes to their business plan in order to comply with the changing regulatory environment, which will have a direct effect on the bank’s current equity investment offering.
In accordance with the bank's guiding principle of Transparency, e3bank will be closing the current escrow account and will be refunding the full amount of investors' subscriptions with interest before reorganizing and commencing a new amended offering.
"We have decided to withdraw our current capital campaign due to modifications that we are making to our business plan," said Baldassarre. "These modifications reflect extensive discussions with the regulatory agencies and our advisors regarding the new de novo bank process. e3bank is not changing our mission, products or our delivery system."
e3bank currently anticipates starting a new equity offering in the New Year once amending the Offering Circular to reflect changes in the application, and are targeting being able to commence operations by the end of the second quarter of 2010.
I had a chance to catch up with Frank Baldassarre about the changes affecting the bank and the financial markets:
GS: Tell me about the changes in e3bank's structure?
e3: We decided to scale back from having a national scope to focusing on the Metro-Philadelphia area. And the time-frame for regulatory scrutiny has changed from 3 years to 7 years for what's considered a de novo bank, so those changes allowed us to reorganize.
GS: You had an ambitious offering in a tough environment this past year, what will happen with those investments?
e3: We're returning 100 percent of the investments to the investors, plus some interest that was earned.
GS: And what was the reaction from investors?
e3: They were disappointed, as we were, but they also appreciated the transparency. We were living up to that core value. There's been a very favorable response to the way we've handled this change.
GS: What's your outlook for 2010?
e3: We're looking to get regulatory approval as soon as possible and expect to open in the second quarter of 2010. This is the right time for our business model, and our mission will remain identical.
GS: What milestones are you hoping to reach by this time next year?
e3: We hope to be a huge success in the Philadelphia region. Our market research shows that e3bank has strong potential in this market. And we'll have well-managed deposit and loan growth. There's a lot of unmet demand for banks, especially those with a more responsible focus.
GS: Are you seeing the triple-bottom-line (TBL) market expanding or contracting at this time?
e3: We see it continuing to expand, and interest in what we're trying to do has been great. I continue to get asked to speak at conferences, most recently to a group called the Environmental Bankers Association. Overall, I feel strongly about the reception we've received from investors around the world.
GS: Do you think they are responding to the message?
e3: The message of TBL in the financial services sector is resonating; people want to do the right thing and the TBL approach is the right thing. We even had an encouraging note from a banker who was watching our model closely and hoping to adopt some of the principals to his own bank.
GS: I know you can't tell me what bank he was from, but what did he say?
e3: He said, "Keep up the good work!"
And from what we've seen of e3bank thus far, that's just what they will do.
For more details on e3bank, check out: www.e3bank.com.