'Are You A Banker?'
Herb Whitfield Asks
At Annual Meeting
BY DOUGLAS WATSON
Friday's annual stockholders meeting of Green Bankshares, Inc., was less congratulatory and more apologetic than sessions in previous years.
Herb Whitfield, a former president of the bank, told attendees of the meeting at the General Morgan Inn that the bank's officers and board members should take pay cuts until the bank "returns to profitability."
Whitfield began his questioning of the bank's executives by bluntly asking Stephen M. Rownd, who one month ago succeeded Stan Puckett as the bank's chairman and chief executive officer, "Are you a banker or an operator?"
Rownd who has had extensive experience as an executive at four larger banks, assured Whitfield, "I'm a banker."
Whitfield, who was president of the bank from 1969 to 1990, asked when GreenBank would be repaying the $72 million in TARP funds it borrowed from the federal government, and how it will it manage to do so.
Rownd assured Whitfield the federal loan will be repaid, but without providing specifics on how and when that will be done.
The luncheon meeting was attended by about 150 persons, mostly shareholders and bank executives.
EXPLANATION BY CFO
During 2009 GreenBank's stock price dropped 74 percent, but since Jan. 1 its stock has risen by 277 percent, the bank has reported.
Jim Adams, the bank's chief financial officer, acknowledged signs of a weakening economy "began to materialize in each of our markets in 2008. Earnings of the company were adversely impacted and exacerbated by the deterioration in real estate market conditions and our concentration of real estate-related loans.
"For the full year of 2008, we reported a net loss of $5.4 million, and as the economy continued to decline in 2009, we reported a net loss of $155.7 million, which included a one-time, non recurring, non-cash after tax charge of $137.4 million relating to goodwill impairment."
Adams continued, "Excluding this extraordinary charge, our core net operating loss was $18.3 million -- clearly, nothing to be proud of."
From when the national recession began in the fourth quarter of 2007, Adams said, GreenBank's "earnings, or lack thereof, closely mirrored this economic cycle, with the depth of the recession occurring first in the second quarter of 2009 and into the third quarter of '09."
GreenBank's operating performance improved in the fourth quarter of 2009, Adams said, with the bank having only "a modest loss of $76,000 -- still in the red, but not by much."
He continued, "Given the less than desirable results of 2009, we were encouraged by the meager, but positive, earnings of $1.9 million for the first quarter of 2010."
FIRST QUARTER RESULTS
Adams said that for the first quarter of 2010, "the bank's net interest income increased by 5 percent, its credit costs decreased, its loan-loss reserve coverage increased, and "we reported net income of slighty over $1.9 million, or 15 cents per share, compared with a slight loss of $76,000 during the fourth quarter of 2009."
Adams concluded, "We are cautiously optimistic that as our earnings trends continue to improve, this improvement will also be reflected in further stock price increases."
CEO ROWND SPEAKS
In his presentation, which was accompanied by slides, Rownd emphasized GreenBank's strengths.
He reported that the bank is the third-largest bank headquartered in Tennessee, and has 63 branches in this state as well as one each in North Carolina and Virginia.
Rownd said that in his first month as GreenBank's president and CEO, he has visited about 85 percent of its offices and has met with about 85 percent of its employees.
He assured the stockholders that the bank's priorities during a period of "slow economic recovery" would be "earnings improvement, improving stock price performance and restoration of dividends," as well as "franchise growth."
Rownd said GreenBank's "focus for the remainder of 2010 will be to remediate our non-performing assets, to continue growing deposits, to exit the government's TARP program, and to realign our loan portfolio concentrations."
COO VAUGHT SPEAKS
Kent Vaught, GreenBank's president and chief operating officer introduced the bank's four regional presidents: Larry Lovelace, for its Middle Region; Scott MacMorran, for its Northeast Region; Monty Montgomery for its East Region; and Frank Snyder, the bank's retail banking executive.
Vaught said GreenBank has been successful with its "strategy of convenience," which has involved:
* extending banking hour at 52 locations, with drive-thru windows open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.;
* offering Saturday drive-thru services at 50 offices;
* providing Sunday drive-thru services between 1 and 4 p.m. at 30 offices, and
* changing the names of 18 different local banks that had been operating as part of Greene County Bank's network all to the name of GreenBank.
TWO CHANGES APPROVED
At the urging of Frank "Cole" Inman, a shareholder who resides in Oregon, the shareholders voted to require that the bank's directors be elected annually by majority votes of the shareholders.
Two motions to that effect were approved despite opposition from the bank's management.
Cole had made those motions at last year's shareholders' meeting, but they were rejected then.
The shareholders elected on Friday to the bank's board of directors were:
* Rownd, the bank's new chairman and CEO;
* Robert K. Leonard, who was appointed lead director of the company in 2009;
* Bill Mooningham, a certified public accountant and adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University; and
* Vaught, the bank's president and chief operating officer.