Ameris sells block of underperforming hotel loans

Ameris Bancorp in Atlanta is the latest banking company to sell troubled loans tied to sectors struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

The $20.4 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that it sold 25 hotel loans totaling $87.5 million during the fourth quarter for 82% of their book value. Ameris said it recorded a $17.2 million charge-off following the sale.

About $40 million of the loans were troubled-debt restructurings.

Ameris said the loans sold were selected based on several factors, including the relationship with the borrower, tier of hotel brand serving as collateral and market conditions where the properties are located.

The sales reduced the company’s hotel exposure by 15%, to $516 million. Nonperforming assets made up 0.48% of total assets on Dec. 31, an improvement from 0.82% at the end of the third quarter.

Ameris said about 18% of its hotel portfolio, or $93 million, remained under some form of payment deferral on Dec. 31.

Hancock Whitney Holding in Gulfport, Miss., sold a $500 million portfolio of energy loans last year, and OceanFirst Financial in Toms River, N.J., also moved some loans.

Chemung Financial in Elmira, N.Y., recently sold three nonperforming commercial loans totaling $3.8 million.

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