Under the headline "The Good Banker," New York Times columnist Joe Nocera writes about Robert G. Wilmers of M&T Bank:
When he took it over, M&T had $2 billion in assets; today, its assets exceed $68 billion, and it's one of the most highly regarded regional bank holding companies. It has also been one of the best performing stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index; indeed, M&T was one of only two banks in the S.& P. 500 that didn't cut its dividend during the financial crisis.
Mr. Nocera doesn't mention that M&T got $751.5 million in TARP money in November and December of 2008. It repaid a chunk of the money earlier this month, but reportedly hasn't paid it all back. Maybe M&T has some kind of explanation for this, like they were forced by the government to take the money and not to repay it quickly. But given that one of the dividend collectors was Berkshire Hathaway, a big M&T shareholder, this sure looks like a Reverse Robin-Hood. Tax Americans to keep those dividends flowing to Mr. Buffett. If M&T is as well run and highly regarded and old-fashioned as Mr. Nocera would have its readers believe, why did it need or accept a $751.5 million federal bailout or capital injection? Maybe there's a good answer, but it would have been nice to see it in Mr. Nocera's column.