If National Penn Bank's 'a willing seller', who'll buy?

"Despite the weak economy," scarce capital, "an apparently hostile regulator" (Treasury's Office of the Comptroller of the Cuerrency), and past "miscues", National Penn Bancshares "has an attractive franchise and may be a willing seller due to the increased regulatory pressure," writes Janney Capital Markets analyst Rick Weiss. Harold Brubaker noted National Penn's troubles last week here.

Weiss didn't suggest any likely buyers, in a market where there's plenty of weak franchises available. The largest local bank to sell last year, troubled Harleysville National, had to go all the way to Buffalo to find a purchaser (First Niagara Corp).

The other day I asked a top executive at a larger rival bank why his company passed on buying Harleysville and its 60 suburban Philadelphia branches. He said, "We looked at it, and we told the FDIC it only made sense if they paid us."

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