Brand Banking Co. under regulators' watch

The Brand Banking Co., metro Atlanta's 13th-largest bank, has agreed to create a budget and a business plan and explain how it will strengthen its credit risk and lending practices.

The bank, along with its holding company, has 60 days from an Aug. 2 written agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the state's banking commissioner to write the plan, which must also include a strategy to maintain sufficient capital at the bank. The bank was prohibited from declaring dividends, among other requirements.

As of June 30, Brand had a Tier 1 capital ratio of 7.25 percent and assets worth $1.229 billion. The 105-year-old bank has six branches and is based in Lawrenceville.

Such restrictions are often precursors to more restrictive cease-and-desist orders. The written agreement, as it is called, was signed by the bank, its holding company and regulators in "recognition of their common goal to maintain the financial soundness of" the parties, the agreement said.

David Rubinger, a spokesman for the bank, said Brand is "extremely well capitalized and profitable" but was under scrutiny because it is a Georgia bank with real estate loans. The bank, in conjunction with announcing the written agreement, announced a net profit of $4.3 million in the second quarter, as compared to $1.88 million in the like quarter a year ago.

Bartow Morgan, Brand's chairman and CEO, said the bank would "easily accomplish" the requirements, which he said were "common sense banking language."

"It will have very little impact on customers at the end of the day," he said.