Nicolet Bank and TARP: Why Did We Take The Funds?

So if Nicolet is not broke, why did we take the TARP funds? We took the TARP funds for two reasons. The first is that we believe in the intent of the program as it was expressed to us. With the exception of the Toobtofs, the program is intended to infuse capital into strong banks because this will hasten the stabilization of the banking industry. I have no doubt that our industry will be radically different 3 years from now. I don’t know all the changes coming but putting money in the hands of the best banks is a smart way to keep credit flowing and clean up problem assets. It is much better than trying to staff a federal agency to buy up the bad assets and take over the banks mired in the problems. We care about our civic duty but we also participated because we believe it will enhance our shareholder value to do so. I understand the public’s frustration, but I am very concerned about an emerging attitude that there is something wrong with banks using TARP money to enhance common shareholder value. Of course, we plan to use the TARP money to make money. It is costing us about 8% to use the money. We have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to use this money to make them money.

Let me also deal with a question that I’ve heard a few times. Are you are planning to use the money to pay bonuses, pay dividends, buy your own stock or make acquisitions? We will abide by the terms of the documents we signed. Beyond that, we will make whatever decisions we believe will enhance shareholder value. The compensation restrictions don’t bother us. We eliminated bonus accruals in Feb of 2008 because we could see that we were not going to hit our profit plan. We have never paid dividends to common shareholders. Buying our stock will require approval of the Treasury. We are planning to acquire either branches or other banks, if are able to negotiate purchases that provide a suitable return to our shareholders.

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