If you’re a customer of Emigrant Bank or one of its three online divisions, you may have noticed an odd change at Emigrant Bank. Its FDIC Certificate number changed from 12054 to 57083. This happened due to Florida-based Plus International Bank acquiring Emigrant Bank on October 1, 2023. After the acquisition, Plus International Bank changed its name to Emigrant Bank. This is how the transactions were documented by the FDIC. In reality, Emigrant Bank (which had $6.4 billion in assets before this merger) acquired Plus International Bank (which had only $47.8 million in assets before this merger).
To differentiate this new Emigrant Bank from the old Emigrant Bank, our profile page name for the new bank is now Emigrant Bank (FL). The profile pages of the three online divisions all link to Emigrant Bank (FL) as the bank that actually holds the deposits. These three online divisions are EmigrantDirect.com, DollarSavingsDirect, and MySavingsDirect.
One consequence of this merger is that Emigrant Bank is now a Florida-chartered bank (Florida license # 11100). Before the merger, it had been a New York state-chartered savings bank. In addition to having the Plus International Bank FDIC Certificate number (57083), the new Emigrant Bank has its official headquarters in Miami, Florida.
A temporary consequence of this merger is that Emigrant Bank (along with its three online divisions) will appear to be a small bank based on the financial overview at DA. The reason is that this merger occurred in Q4 of 2023, and the financial data for Q4 won’t be made available by the FDIC until late February or early March. Until we import the Q4 call reports from the FDIC, our profile page for this bank, Emigrant Bank (FL), will only show the Q3 financial data for the small Plus International Bank. Once we import the Q4 call reports in March, our financial information for the new Emigrant Bank will include the merger of the two banks.
Competitive savings account and CD rates at the online divisions
In addition to being an interesting bank merger, this is an important issue for anyone considering the online savings accounts and CDs at any of the three online divisions of Emigrant Bank. Since last summer, MySavingsDirect and DollarSavingsDirect have been offering a competitive 3-year CD (5.00% APY). In August 2023, I reviewed this CD and the account opening process in my MySavingsDirect CD review. I’m pleasantly surprised that these 5% CDs are still available as of February 2, 2024.
Reasons for the merger?
There has been little media attention to this merger. This South Florida Business Journal October article reported on the FDIC approval of the acquisition, and the article made it clear that Emigrant Bank was the buyer. Also, the article provided information that was included in the merger application:
According to the application filed in May, Emigrant anticipates to substantially increase its lending and other business activities in the Florida market.
The article didn’t have any information on Emigrant Bank terminating its New York charter and then changing the name of Plus International to Emigrant Bank.
I can only speculate on the reason for this merger. In my opinion, it seems like a stealthy way for a bank to move from New York to Florida. As a business, this isn’t anything new. Many other businesses have moved out of New York, as this New York Post article reported last August.
History of Emigrant Bank and its online divisions
In researching this merger, I came across this May 2023 Golf Digest article on the interesting legal battle between Howard Milstein and Jack Nicklaus. A small part of the article provided a short history of Howard Milstein and Emigrant Bank:
Howard is a Milstein, which is a big deal in New York City. In 1919, Morris Milstein, a Russian immigrant, founded a company that joined in the city’s real estate boom by installing the flooring in skyscrapers, including, eventually, the World Trade Center. From flooring, the family moved into real estate, building and owning residential and office towers in Manhattan and elsewhere. In 1986, the family bought Emigrant Savings Bank and built it into the country’s largest privately owned, family-run bank. The Milstein family is now worth an estimated $5 billion.
In 2013, the Milstein Family sold 29 of its 31 branches to Apple Bank for Savings. The remaining two branches are located in New York City and Ossining (Westchester County). In addition to its online bank divisions, Emigrant Bank retained its lending platforms and its residential mortgage, mixed-use and small business lending businesses.
The oldest online division of Emigrant Bank, EmigrantDirect.com, was launched in early 2005. I first reported on it in my old Bank Deals blog in late 2005. Emigrant launched DollarSavingsDirect in 2008 and MySavingsDirect in 2013. Over the years, the three online divisions have alternated in offering competitive rates on savings accounts and CDs. At least one of the three will often have competitive rates, while the others will have less competitive rates. For example, as of February 2, 2024, the savings account rates at DollarSavingsDirect, MySavingsDirect and EmigrantDirect.com are 5.00% APY, 4.35% APY, and 4.00% APY, respectively. Existing customers who don’t move their money when rates become uncompetitive lose out, but this reduces Emigrant Bank’s overall deposit costs.