Thousands of Banks May Disappear; 50% of U.S. Banks Need To Be Recapitalized

photo credit: leader nancy pelosiFORTUNE — Do we need to worry about Too Small to Survive?

Now that President Obama has been re-elected, analysts, consultants and dealmakers have turned from whether Dodd-Frank will be repealed to what it means for banks now that it’s likely here to stay. The overwhelming conclusion: Thousands of small banks will soon disappear.

Emmett Daly, a Sandler O’Neill dealmaker who specializes in small banks, predicted at an industry conference put on by Mergermarket on Thursday that the number of banks in the U.S. would shrink to a few hundred. There are currently more than 7,000. Bill Egan, head of financial institutions investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, agreed, but said the weeding out process was likely to take more than a decade.

Indeed, the deal this week to buy bank adviser KBW by larger rival Stifel Financial appeared to be motivated by the belief that more banks would have to make deals. Says Rochdale Securities bank analyst Dick Bove, “It’s fairly clear that 50% of the banks in the U.S. need to be recapitalized.”

Kamal Mustafa, who heads up bank consulting firm Invictus and is a former Wall Street M&A banker, says it’s not just Dodd-Frank. Low interest rates and the Fed’s annual stress tests are making it tough for small banks to survive as well. His firm looked at bank profits and capital rules and came to this conclusion: Nearly 2,000 banks need to sell. “There are a large number of banks that are limping toward oblivion,” says Mustafa. “Capital requirements have gone up too fast, and rates have gone too low. There’s no way out.”

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