In a press release this week, Redemption Holding Company (RHC), a black investor group, announced that it is acquiring Holladay Bank and Trust, a Utah commercial bank. According to the RHC statement, the purchase will be the first time that an existing commercial bank in the United States becomes a black-owned bank and Minority Depository Institution (MDI) via acquisition.
If the purchase is approved by regulators, the deal would be an important reversal of the roughly 50-year decline in the number of black-owned banks in the United States. As recently as 1976, there were 50 black-owned banks in the nation. Over the last half-century, that number has been cut by more than two-thirds. Today, only 16 remain in operation.
If the deal is approved, former SBA Regional Administrator Ashley D. Bell is expected to serve as the CEO and executive chairman for RHC. Dr. Bernice A. King is expected to serve as the bank’s senior VP for corporate strategy and alliances. She, along with investor Dhani Jones, will also sit on the bank’s advisory board.
An historic move to revitalize black-owned banks
King, who is the daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had partnered with Bell to cofound the National Black Bank Foundation several years ago. Since 2020, that organization has helped to direct roughly $600 million in deals to black banks. King stressed the important role that black banks play in the country;
“In my father’s last public address on April 3, 1968, he preached the imperative to accelerate the financial inclusion of Black Americans by supporting mission-driven Black banks—something he called a ‘bank-in movement. More than half a century of struggle and incremental progress later, we’re making good on daddy’s call to bank-in by creating new centers of opportunity for people of color, starting with this Black-led bank acquisition. Redemption is just that: delivering families from the cycle of unjust financial exclusion and intergenerational poverty.”
RHC is a Delaware public benefit corporation that was created to purchase the Utah bank. It is currently seeking approval from regulators to become a registered bank holding company for the purpose of completing its acquisition. Once the deal is completed, the bank will become the sole black-owned bank in the nation’s Mountain West.