community, and the management of both organizations.” However, since Cohee tried to remove Carver CEO Deborah Wright as head of the bank, getting these two institutions together would be a remarkable feat.
Of course, there are other black-owned banks that would welcome a merger with OneUnited. In addition, several banks seem poised to follow OneUnited’s acquisition strategy. He says Newark-based City National Bank of New Jersey is looking to expand. This bank “has made noises about possible interests in mergers and they have the capital to pull it off.”
OneUnited’s Cooper listed Citizens Trust Bank of Atlanta, Liberty Bank and Trust in New Orleans, and United Bank of Philadelphia as other banks trying to increase in size and scale. “You’ve seen [mergers] in majority banks, where they have gone coast to coast, gaining greater economies of scale by linking management with capital and technology,” he says. “You haven’t seen this in the minority sector of banking, but we’ve acted as a catalyst in this area.”
Smaller banks must deal with the influence mega-institutions have in taking away their core audience. All banks must increase their asset base to compete or they won’t survive. Black-owned banks will have to compete against each other for the black audience, as well as compete against other banks for market share in nonblack communities.
“By linking financial institutions, we’re linking these communities together and making them all stronger,” says Cohee. “Essentially we’re trying to fulfill the age-old dream of African Americans garnering our economic spending power and redistributing it in our communities.”