Feds put limits on stadium donor’s company

by Branden Peterson

Federal bank officials placed several restrictions on a holding company owned by T. Denny Sanford on Thursday; however, it is unclear whether the move will affect Sanford’s wealth or willingness to give $35 million for a new on-campus football stadium.

Sanford is chairman of United National, a privately owned bank with assets totaling more than $1 billion. The Federal Reserve Board placed restrictions on United National and the holding company’s two subsidiary banks, First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard.

Earlier this month, University officials announced a proposed $35 million offer from Sanford toward a new Gophers-only stadium.

Miles Beacom, president of Premier Bankcard, said the federal restrictions should not impact Sanford’s pledge to the University.

Beacom said Federal Reserve officials have worked with the bank since March and have come to a “good agreement” that will not slow the company’s growth.

Two weeks ago, Sanford told the St. Paul Pioneer Press he would be willing to give $5 million upfront from the Sanford Foundation, his charitable-giving organization.

Sanford could not be reached for comment over the weekend.

Sanford’s charitable organization has two locations – one in Scottsdale, Ariz., and another in Sioux Falls, S.D., according to Sue Brown, president of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

The Sanford Foundation in Sioux Falls operates under the direction of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation to specifically concentrate on local needs.

The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation serves as an umbrella to organize donors, coordinate benefactors and endowments, and help nonprofits, according to the foundation’s Web site.

Sanford’s foundation in Scottsdale concentrates on national philanthropy goals, Brown said.

The $5 million Sanford has mentioned giving upfront will not come from the Sioux Falls division of the organization, Brown said.

Sanford’s pledge to the University should not be affected by the federal bank restrictions, she said.

“The assets on which the national and local depend are not reliant on First Premier assets,” Brown said. “There’s no connection.”

Brown said Sanford separated some of his assets for charitable giving about two years ago when he started his foundation in Sioux Falls.

“Every pledge that Denny Sanford has made has been rock-solid,” Brown said about gifts in the Sioux Falls area.

David Vang, a finance professor at the University of St. Thomas, said Sanford’s wealth is probably measured in the stock value of his bank.

Whether the company’s value tumbles or grows will typically affect the owner’s financial assets, he said.