Skip to Content

Proposed Rule

Optional Charter Provisions in Mutual Holding Company Structures

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Office of Thrift Supervision, Treasury.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) is proposing to amend its mutual holding company (MHC) regulations to permit certain MHC subsidiaries to adopt an optional charter provision that would prohibit any person from acquiring, or offering to acquire, beneficial ownership of more than ten percent of the MHC subsidiary's minority stock (stock held by persons other than the subsidiary's MHC).

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before August 27, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by OTS-2007-0012, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov, select “Office of Thrift Supervision” from the agency drop-down menu, then click submit. Select Docket ID “OTS-2007-0012” to submit or view public comments and to view supporting and related materials for this notice of proposed rulemaking. The “User Tips” link at the top of the page provides information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for submitting or viewing public comments, viewing other supporting and related materials, and viewing the docket after the close of the comment period.
  • Mail: Regulation Comments, Chief Counsel's Office, Office of Thrift Supervision, 1700 G Street, NW., Washington, DC 20552, Attention: OTS-2007-0012.
  • Hand Delivery/Courier: Guard's Desk, East Lobby Entrance, 1700 G Street, NW., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on business days, Attention: Regulation Comments, Chief Counsel's Office, Attention: OTS-2007-0012.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be entered into the docket and posted on Regulations.gov without change, including any personal information provided. Comments, including attachments and other supporting Start Printed Page 35206materials received are part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Do not enclose any information in your comment or supporting materials that you consider confidential or inappropriate for public disclosure.

Viewing Comments Electronically: Go to http://www.regulations.gov, select “Office of Thrift Supervision” from the agency drop-down menu, then click “Submit.” Select Docket ID “OTS-2007-0012” to view public comments for this notice of proposed rulemaking.

Viewing Comments On-Site: You may inspect comments at the Public Reading Room, 1700 G Street, NW., by appointment. To make an appointment for access, call (202) 906-5922, send an e-mail to public.info@ots.treas.gov, or send a facsimile transmission to (202) 906-6518. (Prior notice identifying the materials you will be requesting will assist us in serving you.) We schedule appointments on business days between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. In most cases, appointments will be available the next business day following the date we receive a request.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Donald W. Dwyer, (202) 906-6414, Director, Applications, Examinations and Supervision—Operations; or David A. Permut, (202) 906-7505, Senior Attorney, Business Transactions Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision, 1700 G Street, NW., Washington, DC 20552.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Under the MHC Regulations, a subsidiary MHC, or, where there is no subsidiary MHC, the former mutual savings association that reorganized into an MHC structure (collectively, Subsidiary Company), may sell less than 50 percent of its voting stock to parties other than the top-tier MHC.[1]

Under OTS's current regulations, a Subsidiary Company may adopt a charter provision that prohibits any person from acquiring, or offering to acquire, beneficial ownership of more than 10 percent of the Subsidiary Company's stock during the five years after a minority stock issuance.[2] The purpose of this provision, as is the case with fully converted associations, is to lessen the vulnerability of the entity to attempts to take unfair advantage of the results of the offering, to protect the integrity of the offering, and to ensure that the offering is completed in a manner that strengthens the issuer.[3]

OTS has recently become aware of several situations in which minority stockholders have acquired positions in the minority stock of Subsidiary Companies, and have taken actions that appear intended to influence management to engage in stock repurchases or in a sale of the institution. Because a top-tier MHC is required to retain more than 50 percent of the stock of any Subsidiary Company, holders of minority stock (minority stockholders) cannot control the outcome of most issues presented to the stockholders of the Subsidiary Company. However, there are circumstances where OTS's regulations provide that a majority of the minority stock must approve a proposal.[4]

Minority stockholders may acquire a significant percentage of the minority stock without involving either the OTS Acquisition of Control Regulations or the charter provision discussed above, both of which are triggered by an acquisition of more than ten percent of the outstanding stock. For example, if a Subsidiary Company issues thirty percent of its stock in a public offering, a minority stockholder could acquire a third of those shares without implicating either the Control Regulations or the charter provision. In such a case, the minority stockholder may obtain a significant amount of influence, based on its ability to vote on the issues that must be presented separately to minority stockholders.

OTS believes that such a result would be contrary to the purposes of the restrictions addressing post-offering acquisitions of stock in the context of conversions and minority stock offerings, that is, lessening the vulnerability of the entity to attempts to take unfair advantage of the results of the offering, to protect the integrity of the offering, and to ensure that the offering is completed in a manner that strengthens the issuer. Therefore, OTS is proposing to add a provision to the MHC Regulations, which could be adopted only by companies in the MHC structure, that would provide that no entity, or person or group acting in concert could acquire more than ten percent of the outstanding minority stock of a Subsidiary Company during the five years after a Minority Stock Issuance. If a stockholder violated this charter provision, the stockholder would not be permitted to vote any stock the stockholder acquired in excess of the limit.

OTS proposes that the charter provision would not limit the stockholdings of the parent MHC, because the parent MHC, under the Home Owners' Loan Act, must own more than fifty percent of the Subsidiary Company. In addition, OTS proposes that the charter provision except stock held by the Subsidiary Company's Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) from this limitation, because ESOP acquisitions do not present the concerns that have resulted in OTS limiting post-conversion acquisitions of stock.[5]

II. Solicitation of Comments

A. Solicitation of Comments on the Proposed Amendments

OTS is requesting comment on all aspects of the proposed regulation. Specifically OTS seeks comment on:

(1) Does the proposed regulation accomplish its stated purposes?

(2) Does the proposed regulation create any ambiguities that were not present in the current regulation?

(3) Does the proposed regulation impose unnecessary regulatory burdens?

B. Solicitation of Comments Regarding the Use of Plain Language

Section 722 of GLBA requires federal banking agencies to use “plain language” in all proposed and final rules published after January 1, 2000. OTS invites comments on how to make this proposed rule easier to understand. For example:

(1) Have we organized the material to suit your needs? If not, how could we better organize it?

(2) Do we clearly state the requirements in the rule? If not, how could we state the rule more clearly?

(3) Does the rule contain technical language or jargon that is not clear? If so, what language requires clarification?

(4) Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing) make the rule easier to understand? If so, what changes to the format would make the rule easier to understand?

III. Regulatory Findings

A. Paperwork Reduction Act

OTS has determined that this proposed rule does not involve a change to collections of information previously approved under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Start Printed Page 35207

B. Executive Order 12866

The Director of OTS has determined that this proposed rule does not constitute a “significant regulatory action” for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

Pursuant to section 605(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601), the Director certifies that this proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed rule would permit Subsidiary Companies to adopt an optional charter provision. Accordingly, OTS has determined that a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required.

D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

OTS has determined that the proposed rule will not result in expenditures by state, local, or tribal governments or by the private sector of $100 million or more and that a budgetary impact statement is not required under Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, Publication Law 104-4 (Unfunded Mandates Act). The proposed rule would permit Subsidiary Companies to adopt an optional charter provision. The proposed rule changes should not have a significant impact on small institutions. Accordingly, a budgetary impact statement is not required under section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Act.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 575

End List of Subjects

Authority and Issuance

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Office of Thrift Supervision proposes to amend Chapter V of title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

Start Part

PART 575—MUTUAL HOLDING COMPANIES

1. The authority citation for 12 CFR part 575 continues to read as follows:

Start Authority

Authority: 12 U.S.C. 1462, 1462a, 1463, 1464, 1467a, 1828, 2901.

End Authority

2. Amend § 575.9 by redesignating paragraph (c) as paragraph (d), and adding a new paragraph (c) to read as follows:

Charters and bylaws for mutual holding companies and their savings association subsidiaries.
* * * * *

(c) Optional charter provision following minority stock issuance. A federal resulting association or federal acquiree association may, during the five years immediately following a minority stock issuance that such association conducts in accordance with the purchase priorities set forth in 12 CFR part 563b, include in its charter the following provision (for purposes of this charter provision, the definitions set forth at § 552.4(b)(8) of this chapter apply):

Beneficial Ownership Limitation. No person may directly or indirectly offer to acquire or acquire the beneficial ownership of more than 10 percent of the outstanding stock of any class of voting stock of the association held by persons other than the association's mutual holding company. This limitation does not apply to a transaction in which an underwriter purchases stock in connection with a public offering, or the purchase of stock by an employee stock ownership plan or other tax-qualified employee stock benefit plan that is exempt from the approval requirements under § 574.3(c)(1)(iv) of the Office's regulations.

In the event a person acquires stock in violation of this section, all stock beneficially owned by such person in excess of 10 percent of the stock held by stockholders other than the mutual holding company shall be considered “excess shares” and shall not be counted as stock entitled to vote and shall not be voted by any person or counted as voting stock in connection with any matters submitted to the stockholders for a vote.

* * * * *

3. In § 575.14, redesignate paragraphs (c)(3) and (c)(4) as paragraphs (c)(4) and (c)(5), respectively, and add a new paragraph (c)(3) to read as follows:

Subsidiary holding companies.
* * * * *

(c) * * *

(3) Optional charter provision following minority stock issuance. A subsidiary holding company may, during the five years immediately following a minority stock issuance that such subsidiary holding company conducts in accordance with the purchase priorities set forth in 12 CFR part 563b, include in its charter the provision set forth below (for purposes of this charter provision, the definitions set forth at § 552.4(b)(8) of this chapter apply):

Beneficial Ownership Limitation. No person may directly or indirectly offer to acquire or acquire the beneficial ownership of more than 10 percent of the outstanding stock of any class of voting stock of the association held by persons other than the subsidiary holding company's mutual holding company parent. This limitation does not apply to a transaction in which an underwriter purchases stock in connection with a public offering, or the purchase of stock by an employee stock ownership plan or other tax-qualified employee stock benefit plan which is exempt from the approval requirements under § 574.3(c)(1)(iv) of the Office's regulations.

In the event a person acquires stock in violation of this section, all stock beneficially owned in excess of 10 percent shall be considered “excess stock” and shall not be counted as stock entitled to vote and shall not be voted by any person or counted as voting stock in connection with any matters submitted to the stockholders for a vote.

* * * * *
Start Signature

Dated: May 25, 2007.

By the Office of Thrift Supervision.

John M. Reich,

Director.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

Footnotes

1.  See, 12 CFR 575.7 and 575.14(b) (2006). See also 12 U.S.C. 1467a(o)(8)(B).

Back to Citation

2.  See 12 CFR 552.4(b)(8) and 575.14(c)(2) (2006).

Back to Citation

3.  See, e.g., Federal Home Loan Bank Board Order No. 84-90 (Feb. 23, 1984).

Back to Citation

4.  See 12 CFR 563b.500(a)(7), 563b.555, 575.11(i) and 575.12(a)(3) (2006).

Back to Citation

5.  See 12 CFR 563b.525(c)(4)(2006), and the optional charter provision at section 552.4, both of which except ESOPs from the post-conversion acquisition restrictions of section 563b.525.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. E7-12172 Filed 6-26-07; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6720-01-P