5:58 am September 18, 2009, by Henry Unger
Success in one business arena doesn’t always carry over to another one.
Charlie Loudermilk, a legend in Atlanta retailing for founding the thriving Aaron’s lease-to-own chain, is fighting for survival as a banker.
“I’m known as a winner,” Loudermilk told AJC reporter Paul Donsky. “In this case, I’m a loser. If the bank closes, I’m a loser. Hell, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Donsky writes that Buckhead Community Bank, which Loudermilk launched, has been searching in vain for investors or a buyer as the bank tries to keep afloat.
But Loudermilk said potential investors have been scared off by the bank’s $160 million pool of toxic loans mostly tied to real estate bets gone bad.
“We’ve turned over every stone to get people to invest,” Loudermilk, 82, told Donsky. “We don’t know what the future holds. It’s up to the [regulators.]”
Loudermilk, chairman of the bank’s board of directors, said he’s gone as far as to remind customers the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. guarantees individual accounts up to $250,000.
“A lot of these investors are friends of mine, and it’s only fair that I tell them what the law is,” he said.
The bank lost $38 million in the second quarter, including a write-off of goodwill, and burned through much of its capital cushion.
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