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Billion-Dollar Revival: Steve Mnuchin's Financial Resurgence with NYCB


Benjamin Hughes

March 7, 2024 - 01:45 am


Steve Mnuchin Leads a Billion-Dollar Rescue for Ailing New York Community Bancorp

Three years have passed since Steve Mnuchin concluded his tenure as Treasury Secretary under President Donald Trump. Now, in a reminiscent move, he has reemerged with an ambitious strategy reminiscent of his past triumphs in the banking industry. Alongside a long-time collaborator, Mnuchin is reviving their established approach to extracting profits from a faltering U.S. bank: New York Community Bancorp (NYCB).

Steve Mnuchin

Mnuchin’s private equity firm, Liberty Strategic Capital, spearheaded a coalition of investors that poured in excess of $1 billion into the struggling financial institution, effectively seizing command. Revealed on Wednesday, this move has placed former Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting at the helm as CEO.

A Timely Capital Boost

The injection of capital was impeccably timed. According to Gary Townsend, founder of GBT Capital Management, Otting’s placement brings with it "some regulatory bulletproofing". The family office founder also noted the advantage of such an operation being backed by a notable former Treasury Secretary.

The Controversial Profiteers Return

This is not the first time Mnuchin and his partner have merged paths in a way that has raised eyebrows. Their track record is laced with controversy as they chase lucrative opportunities across the financial landscape. Prior to joining the Trump administration, the pair gained attention for purchasing IndyMac, a failed mortgage lender, during the 2008 financial crisis. They rebranded it as OneWest and appointed Otting as the CEO. This turned profitable when they eventually sold it for more than double their initial investment. However, it came with a cost—the lender was besieged by criticism and labeled a "foreclosure machine" by detractors.

Mnuchin's Stance Post-Treasury

Post-Treasury, Mnuchin continued to stir controversy, this time by raising funds for Liberty from sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East, including investments sourced from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

Now, his newest venture with NYCB represents the most significant U.S. bank deal of the year.

A Different Kind of Troubles for NYCB

Unlike the issues that plagued IndyMac, NYCB did not falter due to residential mortgages but rather due to financing challenges with office buildings and apartment complexes. The bank's announcement of "material weaknesses" in monitoring of loans only further sank its shares and credit ratings. When rumors started to circulate about NYCB seeking new equity, its stock plummeted to $1.70, a steep decline from over $13 just the previous year.

The Investment Strategy

Mnuchin's group, sensing an opportunity, laid down a plan that positioned them for significant potential gains. They agreed to purchase common shares at $2 each, alongside convertible preferred stock with a similarly valued conversion price, effectively raising $1.05 billion. While NYCB did not disclose full terms, the investors also secured warrants at an exercise price of $2.50 per share.

The outcome was immediate—the stock rallied, finishing at $3.46 and granting the investors paper gains that nearly doubled the group's investment ahead of the deal's finalization. If they can elevate the share price back to where it was just a few months prior, they'll be looking at a collective gain exceeding $5 billion.

The Investors and Their Impact

The $450 million investment from Liberty will be supplemented by contributions from other key investors: Hudson Bay Capital with $250 million, Reverence Capital Partners with $200 million, and Citadel Global Equities, a part of Ken Griffin's hedge fund empire. This substantial capital inflow is anticipated to enhance NYCB's regulatory capital ratio, potentially aligning it with similar regional banks bearing assets surpassing $100 billion.

However, this transaction poses a challenging "tough pill" scenario. Current shareholders will likely experience significant dilution, yet this could prove beneficial in the long term if Otting can successfully revitalize the company. Herman Chan, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, outlines that Otting's imminent task list is extensive, including lifting the bank's capital even further, mitigating commercial real estate exposure, and maintaining stakeholder confidence.

The Multifaceted Career of Steve Mnuchin

Mnuchin's career trajectory has been diverse and impactful. Starting in the early 1980s as a trainee at Salomon Brothers, he swiftly advanced to a 17-year stint at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., eventually leading the firm’s mortgage department. His departure from Goldman Sachs led him to co-founding Dune Capital Management and even venturing into Hollywood, where he produced several acclaimed films, including "Wonder Woman" and "Sully."

His involvement with Dune marked another significant banking acquisition during the financial crisis. The group, composed of notable figures such as George Soros, John Paulson, and Michael Dell's family office, seized IndyMac leveraging governmental incentives. The entity, rebranded as OneWest, was eventually sold in 2015.

Mnuchin's and Otting's Rebuttal to Accusations

Mnuchin, Otting, and other affiliates of OneWest have vehemently refuted claims, primarily by community groups, that the bank unnecessarily foreclosed on homeowners eligible for loan modifications or neglected underserved populations. These allegations were a point of contention during Mnuchin's Treasury Secretary confirmation hearings, yet Mnuchin managed to navigate them with relative ease compared to his colleagues in Trump's administration. After his Treasury stint concluded, he reverted to the financial sector, a path well-trodden by his predecessors.

Mnuchin's Return to Finance

Hank Paulson post-Treasury became the executive chair of TPG Rise Climate, while Tim Geithner took on the role of president at private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Last year saw Mnuchin's Liberty missing out on key opportunities as regional banks trembled under the pressure of fluctuating interest rates.

Now, the plight of NYCB, rooted in its commercial real estate dealings, may present the chance Mnuchin has been anticipating. His previous associates are confident in his ability to spearhead this turnaround. Former acting comptroller of the currency under Mnuchin and OneWest official, Brian Brooks, expressed unwavering faith in Mnuchin's capacity to execute the task at hand, stating, “There is no better fix-it person in America than Steven Mnuchin.”

The Ensemble Reconvenes

The involvement of Hudson Bay is notable, bringing another former ally into the equation: Allen Puwalski. An ex-staffer at Paulson & Co., Puwalski will join the NYCB board, marking another link to Mnuchin's former OneWest operation.

Industry observers like Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Chris Marinac liken this reunion to Hollywood sequels, addressing the appeal of a successful team making a return. In his words, "People love a sequel."

Looking Forward

The grand narrative unfolding around NYCB underscores both the intense scrutiny and the high-stakes nature of banking industry investments. Mnuchin and his collaborative team have again positioned themselves in the spotlight of America’s financial saga. With their diligent maneuvering and consolidated prowess, they hope to pilot NYCB out of turbulent waters and into a prosperous future.

For a deeper understanding of Mnuchin's previous challenges with reverse mortgages, interested readers can refer to the article "Mnuchin’s Reverse-Mortgage Woes Blemish Record of Treasury Pick".

As the financial community observes this notable endeavor, it watches a familiar play unfold—a proven partnership, a newfound challenge, and the quest for turnaround success. For NYCB, bolstered by strategic investments and esteemed leadership, the path to recovery appears promising. Mnuchin’s Liberty, amidst the dynamism of market forces, stands at the helm of a potential banking resurrection.


In sum, the tale of Steve Mnuchin's re-entry into the banking world is more than an investment story—it is an account of resilience, strategic planning, and the perpetual march towards financial revitalization. As the world of finance grapples with uncertainty and change, figures like Mnuchin serve as testaments to the persistent drive to seize opportunity amidst complexity. With strategic acumen and bold investment moves, the hope is to write a new chapter of success for the New York Community Bancorp and perhaps, set a precedent for future financial rescues.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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