Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Andrew Beal - The Banker Who Said No

The Banker Who Said No

Standing outside the glass-domed headquarters of his Plano, Texas, bank in March, D. Andrew Beal presses a cellphone to his ear. He's discussing a deal to buy mortgage securities. In just a few minutes, the deal's done: His Beal Bank will buy $15 million of face value for $5 million. A few hours earlier he reviewed details on a $500 million loan his bank is making to a company heading into bankruptcy--the biggest he's ever done. A few floors above, workers are bent over computer screens preparing bids for chunks of $600 million in assets dumped by two imploded financial firms. In the last 15 months, Beal has purchased $800 million of loans from failed banks, probably more than anyone else.

Andy Beal, a 56-year-old, poker-playing college dropout, is a one-man toxic-asset eater--without a shred of government assistance.


Then came a shocker: Amid one of the most reckless lending sprees in history, regulators focused on the one bank that refused to play along.  Beal's moves confused and worried them, and so they began to probe him with questions. "What are you doing?" he recalls them asking. "You're shrinking yet you're raising capital?"

Beal is one of the smarter guys running around - and the article is worth reading.

I am biased; Beal was, for a while, going to build rockets and make a bundle in the space launch biz. And he was doing this in Dallas - about thirty miles from my house. 

It would be like growing up as an aviation enthusiast in Seattle in the 20s and going to work for Boeing.

Except I had a pretty good job [1] and it would be crazy to give that up. Then I got laid off. And I networked with a guy who knew a guy at Beal Aerospace.

Who told me they'd announced they'd closed the doors the week before.


But, on the other hand, I did a few weeks later land a job with a company that I'm still working for and that I like just fine.  So there is that.

[1] Albeit one that I came to realize I didn't like so much.

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