BB&T, the nation’s ninth largest financial holdings company with $109.2 billion in assets, announced today that it “will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.”
In a press release issued today by the bank, BB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Allison, said, “The idea that a citizen’s property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it’s just plain wrong. One of the most basic rights of every citizen is to keep what they own. As an institution dedicated to helping our clients achieve economic success and financial security, we won’t help any entity or company that would undermine that mission and threaten the hard-earned American dream of property ownership.”
The argument is actually pretty clear-cut that they see eminent domain as having a negative financial impact on their industry. Still, I’m willing to bet the bank will be taken to court over alleged discrimination in lending practices in some not-too-distant point in the future, probably by a local government city council to boot.
Update: Hit & Run has more:
Is this an attempt to improve BB&T’s image among home buyers looking for mortgage lenders, or a plain, old-fashioned stand on principle? Maybe a little of both. If BB&T is doing well by doing good, it could hardly be faulted by shareholders. But what if it actually stands to lose more money by turning down developers’ business than it gains by taking a stand in defense of property rights?
This seems more like a shrewd business move rather than pandering to public opinion. After all, they could have led the way in stealing property from other banking institutions, but then the banking industry probably wouldn’t do so well if everyone was only trying to fuck the other guy over.