Waters Urges ‘Hard Look’ At PNC, BBVA Merger

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters said in a press release that she doesn’t think the proposed merger between PNC and BBVA should be rubber-stamped without serious consideration of antitrust matters.

The merger, which would create the fifth-biggest bank in the U.S., is troubling to Waters because of the trend of giving bank mergers the OK far too easily, according to the release.

She said President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration should “take a hard look” at the merger, and the incoming Department of Justice Antitrust Division should conduct a “stringent review.”

“The DOJ and relevant regulators must fully scrutinize this proposal and assess the merger’s potential impact on the banks’ customers, workers at the banks, and communities served by the banks, especially communities of color that have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” she said in the release. “Regulators must also evaluate whether the banks are making diversity and inclusion an intentional priority, and must rigorously review whether the proposed merger truly satisfies all relevant requirements and creates a public benefit.”

Waters said she hopes to see regulators holding public hearings to make sure anyone affected by the merger can be heard, and that regulators will consult with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) because of implications for customers, along with the Secretary of the Treasury because of possible systemic risks from such a big merger.

The proposed PNC and BBVA deal for $11.6 billion would be the second-largest bank deal since the Great Recession. The combined bank would have a presence in 24 states and a combined asset value of nearly $560 billion. PNC said the deal has already been approved by both companies’ boards.

Regulators have been giving the green light to more bank mergers lately due to the President Donald Trump administration’s reversals of several corporate taxes put in place after the Great Recession. Waters said in the release that such measures should be watched closely, critiquing Trump’s “harmful deregulatory agenda.”

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