Ohio River Bank not in jeopardy, parent company says

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 11, 2003

A regulatory agreement between Premier Financial Bancorp Inc. of Huntington, W.Va., and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland will have no effect on members of Ohio River Bank, Premier officials said Monday.

"The agreement does not affect Ohio River Bank whatsoever," said Brien Chase, chief financial officer for Premier. "The customers are not affected, the borrowers are not affected and Ohio River Bank's financial activities are not affected."

Ohio River Bank, 221 Railroad St., Ironton, is the only bank in the state that Premier Financial owns.

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ORB has two branches -- one in Rome Township and another in South Webster.

Chase said he does not foresee any problems for the bank in the future because the agreement is strictly related to the holding company's debt and is just a supervisory review.

"Holding companies are typically supervised by the Federal Reserve Bank," Chase said. "We just entered into this agreement to address specific issues."

Loan practices and profitability are two primary areas that will be addressed, he said.

In 2002, Premier recorded a $1.2 million loss, but much of the loss occurred during the first three quarters. The company posted a profit of $355,000 during the winter quarter, he said.

Chase said the Federal Reserve Bank wants the holding company to continue to develop loan review practices.

"They have signed off on them and are satisfied," he said. "But they do want to continue to see improvement and profitability."

Premier will hire an independent consultant within the next 30 days, as required by the agreement, to monitor these loan programs. Although there is no termination date on the agreement, it would be most beneficial for everyone to be taken of the regulations as soon as possible, he said.

All inquires about the effects on Ohio River Bank were directed toward Premier.