Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown?

Published — May 6, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

No. 16 of The Subprime 25: EquiFirst Corp./Regions Financial Corp./Barclays Bank plc


Total high-interest loans 2005-2007:

At least $24.4 billion

Federal bailout money received:

$3.5 billion (Regions)

Company overview

  • Status: CLOSED. EquiFirst stopped making loans on February 17, 2009.
  • History: Founded in 1989, EquiFirst began what it dubbed “controlled growth” from North Carolina to dozens of other states. On March 30, 2007, Regions Financial Corp. sold the lender to Barclays Bank Plc of Great Britain for $76 million, far less than was originally offered.
  • Parent/subsidiary companies: EquiFirst was a wholly owned subsidiary of Regions Bank until April 2007, when EquiFirst was purchased by Barclays Bank of Great Britain.
  • CEO: Chairman/CEO: Jeffrey Tennyson
    • Most recent salary: Not available
  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Year founded: 1989
  • Backers: In addition to primary backing from Regions Financial Corp. and Barclays Bank, EquiFirst also sold its loans to issuers of mortgage-backed securities such as Residential Funding Corp.

Lobbying overview

  • Lobbying: 2001-2008: Regions did not report any lobbying expenditures, but firms working for the company reported $720,000 in expenditures. **
  • Total Contributions: At least $945,792 *
  • Top Recipients:
    1. Representative Spencer Bachus, R-Alabama $59,500
    2. National Republican Congressional Committee $45,000
    3. Republican National Committee $38,960
    4. Financial Services Roundtable PAC $38,000
    5. Mortgage Bankers Association PAC $28,000

** Lobbying totals calculated by the Center for Public Integrity using data from the Senate Office of Public Records.

* Contribution grand total includes employee and soft money contributions from the lender and its subsidiaries. Top recipient totals include employee and political action committee contributions. Data provided by CQ Money Line, analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

Read more in Inequality, Opportunity and Poverty

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