LOS ANGELES – The Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on Friday, Oct. 14 formally approved U.S. Bancorp’s acquisition of MUFG Union Bank. In response to the approval, CRC Chief Executive Officer Paulina Gonzalez-Brito issued the following statement:
“CRC and its members, alongside NCRC, The Greenlining Institute and other allied organizations, worked for months to negotiate the largest ever Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with U.S. Bank. The five-year, $100 billion plan — with a $60 billion carve-out for California communities — represents the bank’s strong commitment to equitable access to capital.
“While we’re pleased to have this plan in place, there is no denying that mergers and acquisitions routinely result in the closure of bank branches, additional consumer fees, and disproportionate harm to Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. The Fed and the OCC did right by consumers and communities earlier this year when they granted our request for a public hearing and extended the public comment period to allow people and organizations to express their concerns about this merger. We hope this signals an end to the blatant rubber-stamping of bank mergers we’ve witnessed over the last several years. Still, in order to ensure the private gains of banks are not prioritized over public benefit, federal regulators must condition future bank merger approval upon compliance with CBA’s.
“We urge federal regulators to formally incorporate community benefits agreements into any and all merger approval orders. We hope regulators, in future mergers, will not only provide the fullest opportunity for consumers to weigh in through public hearings, but will also elevate community benefits agreements and enforce them.
In November 2021, CRC submitted a letter to both agencies formally opposing the merger. More than 60 California-based organizations signed on in support of the opposition letter, while several other CRC member and allied organizations submitted their own letters opposing the merger. In a rare move, the Feds and the OCC scheduled a public meeting virtually in March to hear from people and organizations who raised concerns about branch closures, mortgage lending disparities, and decreased affordable housing lending and investment, among other issues. A CBA was agreed to in May.
Among the most notable inclusions of the final CBA with U.S. Bank were: commitments to opening new branches and preserving branches in underserved communities; a commitment to develop three Special Purpose Credit Programs that target BIPOC homeownership, small business ownership and affordable housing development capacity; and a commitment to focus outreach and resources in rural and Native American communities.