Inner City Press Bank Beat
Archive #2 2000 (April - July 17, 2000)

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July 17, 2000

     Deal of the week must be Switzerland’s UBS’s $10.8 bid for PaineWebber and its 385 offices across the United States. One notes various Congress members’ concern that Deutsche Telekom might buy Sprint (whose merger with WorldCom was finally called off last week). For some reasons, similar concerns are not raised (in Congress at least) about financial service industry mergers (Deutsche Bank-Bankers Trust; HSBC-Republic, Aegon-TransAmerica, ING-ReliaStar (see CRA Report), and maybe Aetna, etc.). While this might be explained by the total lack of unionization in the financial sector in the United States (telecom industry unions like CWA can at least get a hearing in Washington), the incongruity remains...

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July 10, 2000

     In the three business days after the 4th of July (U.S.) holiday, a number of bank-on-bank deals were announced, and others were rumored. Wells Fargo announced it’s buying Brenton Banks of Iowa, for $264 million. Iowa’s previous 10% of deposits cap is gone. Let the price squeezing begin! (Deregulation is taking place at the state, as well as federal, level).

    One piece of international news we can’t resist: Japan’s Nomura Securities has been “embarrassed,” according to the South China Morning Post, by revelations of its investments in “love hotels” (which Bloomberg delicately describes as being “designed for intimate encounters for a short period of time.” Otherwise known as... a whorehouse. Could future payments in these hotels be securitized? That’s -- what the international financial community wants to know...

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July 5, 2000

   In this holiday-shortened week, a quick wrap-up of bank acquisition news:

   On June 27, Queens County Bancorp announced that it will buy Haven Bancorp, for $196 million -- a mere four percent premium. Seems that Haven’s supermarket branch concept didn’t work out too well...

June 26, 2000

    Deal announcement of the week was Alliance Capital’s June 20 bid of $3.5 billion for the New York investment bank Sanford C. Bernstein, Inc., described by Reuters as “a move to add wealthy clients.” A variation on Schwab’s purchase of U.S. Trust, it seems. Bank-on-bank deals have been strangely lacking, this month. We’ll focus this Report on a $6 billion deal announced on May 1, 2000: ING’s proposal to acquire Minneapolis-based insurer ReliaStar.

    Not mentioned in much of the May reporting about the deal is the fact that ReliaStar, along with its 4,000 registered insurance representatives, owns a savings bank: ReliaStar Bank. This bank is subject to the Community Reinvestment Act, requiring it to serve its whole community, including low income neighborhoods. ICP has reviewed ReliaStar Bank’s most recent mortgage lending data, and found that in its headquarters city, it did not make a single home purchase or refinance mortgage loan in a low income census tract, and none to African Americans or Latinos.

    Meanwhile, ING has been applying to form it own savings bank, to be headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, but to market itself (and collect deposits) as far north as New York City. ING proposes to limit its Community Reinvestment Act duties to the Wilmington Consolidated metropolitan statistical area, despite its plan to open a “marketing office” in New York.

    On these bases, ICP and the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council on June 25 filed an eight-page protest to ING’s application to acquire ReliaStar, with the Office of Thrift Supervision, which must approve the deal. A summary of the comment follows:

June 25, 2000


Office of Thrift Supervision
Northeast Regional Office
Attn: Regional Director Robert Albanese, et al.
(Messrs. Barnes and Steffey, Ms. Yablonsky)
10 Exchange Place, 18th Floor
Jersey City, NJ 07302

RE: Timely Protest to, and Meeting Request on, theApplications of ING, ING USA Holding Corporation and all affiliates (including the proposed ING Bank, fsb / ING Direct) to acquire ReliaStar and its affiliates, including its federal thrift

Dear Mr. Albanese and others at the OTS:

     On behalf of Inner City Press/Community on the Move and its members and affiliates, including the Inner City Public Interest Law Center (collectively, "ICP”), and of the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council (“DCRAC;” together, the “Protestants”) this is a timely protest to, and meeting request on, the applications of ING, ING USA Holdings Corporation and all affiliates, including the proposed ING Direct savings bank (collectively, “ING”) to acquire ReliaStar and its federal thrift, ReliaStar Bank FSB (collectively, “ReliaStar”).

    As set forth in more detail below, ING proposes merging ReliaStar Bank into ING Direct, a bank which would limit its Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) assessment area to the Wilmington, Delaware Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (“CMSA”), while now planning to open marketing offices in New York City and elsewhere. ReliaStar Bank in 1998 in the Minneapolis MSA did not made a single home purchase or refinance loan in a low income census tract, and none to African Americans or Latinos. ING has inaccurately represented to the OTS that “no... comments or complaints have been received with respect to ING Direct.” App. Vol. 1., Pg. 99; but see ING’s counsel’s March 24, 2000, letter to ICP, annexed hereto. These issues, and ING’s mis-statements to the OTS in its Applications, militate for the meetings that ICP and DCRAC are timely requesting.

    As you know, ING applied last year to charter a new savings bank, ING Direct. ICP commented on that application, questioning inter alia ING’s proposal to limit its CRA assessment area to the Wilmington, Delaware Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”). On March 24, 2000, ING’s counsel wrote to ICP, acknowledging the protest, and stating inter alia that “ING has decided that it would be more appropriate, as suggested by your letter, for the Savings Bank’s assessment area to be broadened to include the entire Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA) within which the Savings Bank’s home office will be located.”

   ICP continued (and continues) to dispute this proposed CRA assessment area, given that the ING Direct proposal stated that the Bank would be targeting communities as far north as New York City for deposits and loans.

     Earlier this month, DCRAC and ICP became aware of ING’s applications to the Office of Thrift Supervision (“OTS”) to acquire ReliaStar, via newspaper notice in the Wilmington (De.) News-Journal. ICP wrote to the OTS on June 12, 2000, requesting (under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”)) a complete copy of ING’s applications, and timely requesting a meeting on the proposal. Subsequently, ING’s counsel mailed ICP and DCRAC copies of portions of the application -- large portions of ING’s filings were not provided. The OTS has yet to rule on ICP’s FOIA request.

     Even the portions of the applications provide by ING raise more questions that they answer. For example, the H(e)(3) application, at Volume 1, pg. 83, now states that “ING Direct has already identified the location of two such marketing offices, one in Wilmington, Delaware, and one in New York, New York.” Emphasis added. ING states that it “anticipates opening such... marketing offices... in the metropolitan areas where its marketing activities will be focused during its three-year business plan.” Id., emphasis added. The Application, however, continues to propose a CRA assessment area limited to the Wilmington CMSA, excluding, inter alia, New York, New York. It is entirely contrary to the CRA for a (in this case, still proposed) bank to exclude from its assessment area communities in which it explicitly intends to “focus[]” its “marketing efforts.” ICP and DCRAC oppose these applications, and timely request a meeting on them.

    Interestingly, ReliaStar Bank (which would apparently be merged into the (still-only-proposed) ING Direct, but be run as a separate “division’) has established four CRA assessment areas, including a “nationwide” CRA assessment area. App. Vol. 1, pg. 94. The Application argues, however, that this “nationwide” assessment area should apply ONLY to “loans made by the ReliaStar Division.” Id., pg. 95. The approaches toward CRA and assessment areas of ING Direct and ReliaStar Bank are entirely inconsistent. On this issue, ING Direct should also be required to adopt a “nationwide” CRA assessment area. Note for the record that ING is currently moving to roll out a nationwide distribution channel, via the Internet, applying for insurance licensed in all 50 states. See, e.g., American Banker-Bond Buyer’s “Insurance Accounting,” June 5, 2000, Pg. 2, Steve Tuckey, “ING Enters U.S. Web Life Market.”

     ICP was also surprised to see in the Application, in response to the OTS’ required question 620.20 (“Provide information concerning any CRA comments or complaints received within the previous year”), ING’s response: “No such comments or complaints have been received with respect to ING Direct...”. App. Vol. 1, Pg. 99. This representation by ING to the OTS is simply untrue. Not only does the OTS know that ICP filed such comments with respect to ING Direct -- ING’s counsel does as well. See, e.g., ING’s counsel’s March 24, 2000, letter to ICP, stating that the OTS “has conveyed to us the concerns expressed in your December 23, 1999 comment letter regarding the applications... to form ING Bank, fsb.” ING’s direct mis-statement in the CRA portion of these applications further militates for the meeting that ICP and DCRAC are requesting.

    While ING Direct has not reported any Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (“HMDA”) data (in fact, ING Direct has not even been chartered yet -- it seems strange to be applying to merge ReliaStar Bank into an entity which does not yet have regulatory approval), the Protestants have reviewed ReliaStar Bank’s 1998 HMDA data.

   In the Minneapolis MSA, ReliaStar Bank in 1998 made no home purchase or home refinance loans in low income census tracts. It is not the case that such lending opportunities do not exist in this MSA: in 1998, 822 home purchase loans, and 1082 home refinance loans, were reported in low income census tracts in the Minneapolis MSA. ReliaStar Bank’s exclusions are similar by race: in 1998 in this MSA, no home purchase or refinance loans to African Americans or Latinos. But 1077 home purchase loans, and 1085 refinance loans, to African Americans in this MSA were reported in 1998; the figures for Latinos were 374 home purchase loans, and 404 refinance loans, in 1998.

   Based on the apparent disparities in ReliaStar Bank’s outreach, marketing and lending record in 1998, ICP has requested from ReliaStar it 1999 Loan Application Register (“LAR”), under 12 C.F.R. Part 203, Appendix A. We note that ReliaStar Bank now appears to be soliciting deposits, and offering loans, well beyond Minnesota. See, e.g., <>. Note also that ReliaStar has 4,000 registered representatives, across the United States. A.M. Best’s Bestwire, May 25, 2000. Beyond (and, to a degree to be determined in this proceeding, in connection with) its thrift, ReliaStar is the eighth-largest publicly-traded life insured in the United States. Crain’s Business Insurance, May 8, 2000, Pg. 50.

     ReliaStar has yet to provide ICP with its 1999 LAR -- when it does, ICP and DCRAC will be submitting further comments. These disparities will also be discussed at the meeting that ICP and DCRAC have timely requested.

     On the current record, these applications could not legitimately be approved.

     And the Beat goes on...

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June 19, 2000

     Bank-on-bank acquisitions remain slow: (micro) deal of the week was Old Kent’s announcement it will buy Home Bancorp of Fort Wayne, Indiana, for $39 million. Overseas, Commerzbank and Dresdner are reportedly in merger talks; Chase has “no commented” the reports of its plans to sell of its Hong Kong franchise, for $1 billion. Conseco’s failure to timely sell off the subprime lender Green Tree has resulted in credit downgrades, and a continuing falling stock price. ING over the weekend acknowledged that Aetna had rejected its bid, as too low. ING says its looking at other targets; previously, it’s said it wants “one or more” acquisitions in the U.S. of the size of its pending application to acquire ReliaStar and its savings bank... More forthcoming...

   The battles around Dime Savings continue. Last week, ICP obtained copies of Fleet’s response to the Federal Reserve Board’s question about which of the 17 Dime branches that Fleet would buy from North Fork would be closed. Fleet responded that it “does not have any plans to close or consolidate any branches as a consequence of its agreement to purchase 17 Dime Savings Bank branches,” but added that “[r]eference is also made to the Confidential Attachment” (that Fleet is withholding). Dime’s lawyers at Sullivan & Cromwell quickly fired back: “In view of FleetBoston’s past record of contradicting flat statements made in the public portion of submissions in confidential filings, we urge the Board to require the disclosure of any plans by FleetBoston to close of consolidate Dime branches.” Dime’s submission concluded: “Statements such as these exemplify the need for a hearing at which sworn testimony can be taken, and we reiterate Dime’s request for a hearing.” It should be noted that this law firm routinely opposes community groups’ request for hearing on bank mergers, and opposes disclosing its clients’ branch closures plans. As the world turns...

    American General, already sued by the state of Florida for charging African Americans more for insurance, now faces an more extensive action by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The company continues running its T.V. advertisements, featuring New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, the heroic Tour de France bicycle race winner, and quotes from Henry David Thoreau. Somehow it’s incongruous, with the mounting charges of discrimination, and American General’s extensive involvement in high interest rate, subprime lending...

June 12, 2000

    From low to high: micro-deal of the week was Troy Financial’s agreement to acquire Catskill Financial for $90 million; shadowy, “unreported sum” deal of the week was Merrill Lynch’s acquisition of the market-maker Herzog (Bloomberg puts the purchase price at $1 billion, but who’s counting?). The founding family of Fleming, the British investment bank that Chase is buying, is set to receive $2.2 billion. Meanwhile, Chase’s stock price has plummeted 12,8% since April, and J.P. Morgan downgraded Chase last week. Ol’ J.P. Morgan was not only an analyst, but also a target, of a $400,000 NASDAQ fine. Wells Fargo is the subject of a criminal complaint in California (while announcing its acquisition of Charter Financial of New York, an equipment leasing firm). And Morgan Stanley was hit with sex discrimination charges by the EEOC. Bank of America is being subpoenaed by Congress, on money laundering. Financial deregulation in the United States, under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, made and make a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

June 5, 2000

  ING continues shopping for “financial services providers” in the United States. Since its announced deal for ReliaStar, ING’s is now rumored to be preparing to buy the financial services parts of Aetna. In micro-M&A, Northeast Pennsylvania Financial Corp. on June 2 said it’s buying cross-town rival Security of Pennsylvania Financial Corp. for about $24 million. The institutions are across the street from each other, in Hazelton, PA; Northeast’s CFO claims that “job losses should be minimal.” We’ve heard that one before....

    In take the corporate welfare and then run news, Chase Manhattan, recipient of so many New York tax breaks, last week announced it’s moving 2,000 jobs from lower Manhattan across the Hudson River to New Jersey, where even greater corporate welfare’s being offered. Don’t expect much opposition from born-again Rudy Giuliani, or rarely-seen-in-Albany Governor Pataki. Nor from Senate candidate Hillary Clinton: Chase spreads its campaign contributions on both sides of the aisle, and its jobs on both sides of the river.

May 30, 2000

    While there were some deal last week (below, we review Chase Manhattan’s wheeling and dealing, buying Beacon, selling Hong Kong branches) -- we’ll focus this report on a particularly illuminating field: high interest rate consumer finance, subprime and sometimes predatory lending.

     GE Capital is rumored to be considering buying the subprime lending unit of Transamerica, from Aegon. There’s an interesting regulatory angle on both of these (Green Tree-Lehman, and GE-Transamerica): both Conseco and Transamerica/Aegon have applications pending to charter savings banks, applications on which the companies’ involvements in questionable subprime lending have been raised. Will the regulator (in both instances, the Office of Thrift Supervision) haul off and approve the applications, once the subprime units are sold? The OTS gave Lehman a thrift charter last year, but on an expedite, “emergency” basis (Lehman was buying a failing thrift in Delaware). ICP will be following how these subprime sell-offs impact the pending thrift charter applications...

     There are two applications pending before the Federal Reserve Board on which subprime / predatory lending issues have been documented and raised: Wells Fargo - National Bancorp of Alaska (Wells’ next is First Security), and the Mizuho merger application. On May 25, the Fed finally responded to ICP’s April 18 Freedom of Information Act request about the Fed’s oversight of the conditions it imposed on the Wells Fargo - Norwest merger in 1998. Included is a list of Wells Fargo branch closings in 1999 (18 in Nevada alone). Wells Fargo marked the list “Confidential,” despite its presumptively public nature. Perhaps that explains the Fed’s five week delay in responding -- or perhaps it is just another example of the Fed withholding documents until the comment periods on contested merger applications have closed -- the Fed STILL hasn’t responded to ICP’s April 18 FOIA request concerning the Mizuho merger application.

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May 22, 2000

     Bank deal of the week is M&T’s $1 billion deal to acquire Pennsylvania-based Keystone Financial. When M&T acquired the branches Chase was dumping, in Binghamton and elsewhere, it effectively blew off concerns raised from Broome County. Then -- it closed branches. This week’s New York State Banking Department Weekly Bulletin has notice of four more M&T branch closings: three in Monroe County, and yet another, in the cute little town of Rome, in Oneida County. M&T’s now looking south, toward Pennsylvania and... West Virginia.

May 15, 2000

     The bank M&A “community” has been given the green light by the Clinton (and possible Gore) administration(s). Clinton’s Department of Justice, which must review most consequential mergers for possible anticompetitive effects, announced at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Bank Structure Conference that “we expect that for the foreseeable future that these transactions will result in few antitrust challenges.” DOJ Antitrust Litigation Section chief Robert Kramer noted with pride that “over the last ten years the department has submitted ‘competitive factors reports’ to the regulatory agencies in 11,000 merger applications. Only 54 were ‘conditional reports,’ which included agreements to divest. Only three ‘significantly adverse reports’ were submitted, and three cases were filed and ultimately settled.” Kramer concluded: "The Antitrust Division will apply these same policy goals to financial sector consolidation.” So it’s bombs away....

      Citigroup’s Sandy Weill concurs. In West Virginia at the Business Council meeting on May 12, Weill predicted that the current stock market slide will be only temporary, then M&A will pick up. "Trading is a little bit slower but things are still, on a relative basis, very good.... Mergers and acquisitions are still pretty active although I think there is a readjustment going on with the changing level of prices... I think with the volatility in the market, we've seen a decline in the number of new issues that can get consummated, and I think that's going to probably continue until we see more stability come into the markets...”.

     The Federal Reserve, very much in favor of M&A in financial services and other industries, will try again to bring the required “stability,” at its FOMC meeting of May 16. Interest rates will be raised by 25, or, less likely, 50 basis points. Leading into the meeting, Fed Governor Ferguson on May 11 opined that the last seven years have "taught us that low and stable inflation is the underpinning for sustainable growth, and that sustainable growth fosters the maximum creation of jobs over time." Ferguson’s speech focused mostly on what he described as the benefits of deregulation (“a marketplace that has become more competitive, with fewer constraints and increased flexibility”), and touting the Fed’s purported openness. Meeting in secret with merger applicants like Schwab and U.S. Trust, then withholding all notes taken at the meeting; withholding documents about Wells Fargo and National Bancorp of Alaska until after the expiration of the public comment period -- these hardly seem to reflect what Ferguson called “The increased openness of the Federal Reserve...”. But as explained musically by San Francisco Fed president Bob Parry on May 8, the Fed doesn’t have “only a single note to play. The Fed can play more than one note. And in addition to that, I would not consider a second note as being inconsistent with caution.” Look for a quarter point hike, and for M&A to start heating up again... For now, a few updates:

May 8, 2000

    Deal of the week, by size at least, is Dutch insurer ING’s $6.1 billion deal to take over ReliaStar, which was announced on May 1. The Connecticut attorney general immediately expressed opposition, based on ING’s failure to date to “come clean” about the full extent of its activities during the Holocaust. Other issues and venues may arise: ReliaStar owns a savings bank, supervised by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS); ING is currently applying to the OTS to charter a savings bank (that application may be moot, if the deal proceeds). Developing...

     In micro-bank M&A news, Maryland’s Provident Bancshares announced it will buy Baltimore-based Harbor Federal Bancorp for $29.8 million. Wachovia announced it will sell off 15 of its Virginia branches to Winchester, VA’s F&M National Corp. and four branches to Centura. Franchises are being “rationalized;” in the Northeast, Chase recently sold Connecticut branches to Webster (while, overseas, Chase is selling its Panama branches to HSBC).

    Bank One’s long-time lobbyist, Annie Hall (yes, she had that name before the Woody Allen movie, and refused thereafter to change it) has now SUED Bank One, for age and gender discrimination. Even though Ms. Hall lobbied for years to essentially deregulate Bank One, we’re rooting for her...

     ICP is currently tracking and advocating on several proposed combinations (each can be clicked, to view): Wells Fargo - National Bancorp of Alaska;    North Fork / Fleet - Dime;  Mizuho (Fuji, IBJ and DKB), etc..

May 1, 2000

    The action this week is more corporate chaos than actual new merger announcement. On April 28, the CEO of long-embattled Conseco resigned, after announcing a 73% drop in earnings. Seems that Conseco’s acquisition of the subprime lender Green Tree was a fiasco; Conseco’s now put Green Tree up for sale in what is definitely a buyer’s market. Another subprime - insurance conglomerate, American General, was revealed last week as charging “race-based additive premiums” on industrial life insurance. According to Florida insurance commissioner Bill Nelson, “although many insurance companies stopped selling such policies years ago, some insurers who were charging different rates based on race did not reduce the higher premiums on existing policies when they eliminated such pricing on new policies.” Talk about a compliance culture (at Houston-based American General) -- “Honey, we forgot to eliminate the race-based premiums.” And this is a company that was granted a federal savings bank charter in 1999...

    The insurance company thrift charter motif is in the mix on the industry rumor of the week, ING to buy Reliastar, for around $5 billion. Reliastar already owns a savings bank; ING is applying for one. The announcement could come as early as May 1 (after the deadline for this Report). (April 30-May 1 flash: it IS happening, for $6.1 billion, reports early May 1 out of Amsterdam indicate...).

    Two bank merger deals were announced in New York State last week: NBT to acquire BSB of Binghamton for $248 million, and Hudson River Bancorp to acquire Cohoes Bancorp for $87 million. The second of these is pitched as a merger of equals, with no premium -- this didn’t work out too well for the similarly-named Hudson United and Dime (well, Hudson’s now getting a $50-92 million break-up fee), we’ll see what happens here.

    Finally, for this week, who watches the watchers? The New York Times’ banking reporter, Tim O’Brien, is leaving the paper, for a dotcom company (the sourcing for this in the <> auto-responder). In other “confirmation by auto-responder” news, it has been confirmed that Wells Fargo’s long-time Community Reinvestment Act officer, Karen Wegmann, has left the bank. The company never announced this, but Ms. Wegmann’s phone number now responds, “I have left the bank.” (In a parallel universe, the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald of November 11, 1999. at page B6, reported that “Karen Wegmann.. died.. November 9, 1999.”  While this quote is eminently real, we should note that it appears clear that it refers to a different Karen Wegmann, hence the preface, "in a parallel universe).   The first Ms. Wegmann’s departure *may* explain Wells Fargo’s bungling April 28, 2000 response on predatory lending issues, stating, as to Wells’ ongoing business with much-sued subprime lender Delta Funding, that that “while not indifferent to the lending practices of the originators, Norwest Bank Minnesota, N.A.... only becomes aware of lending concerns, if any, substantially after the fact.” That might have been true of Wells’ first transactions with First Alliance and Delta -- but even after these companies were being sued for discrimination (beginning, for Delta, in 1999), Wells continues to do business with them. And the beat goes on...

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April 24, 2000

     U.S. deal of the week was Mississippi-based BancorpSouth’s announcement of April 17 that it will seek to acquire Arkansas-based First Union Bancshares, for $455 million. ICP has studied BancorpSouth’s lending patterns, and they’re not pretty (see below).

     Among the behemoths, Citigroup held its annual meeting, something of a globalizer’s lovefest, at which Sandy Weill autographed dollar bills for star-struck shareholders (or perhaps they were shrewd signature collectors). And we thought it was illegal to deface U.S. currency...

April 17, 2000

     The week opened with Wells Fargo’s announcement that it will buy First Security, whose deal with Zions recently fell apart, for $2.9 billion. Zions CEO Harris Simmons whined, “[T]he systems integration work was essentially completed...”. Lesson? Don’t count your chickens (or stock options) before they’re hatched...The week closed, on April 14, with Alaska community groups filing protests to Wells other pending acquisition, the takeover of National Bancorp of Alaska, agreed to on January 12. Click here to view ICP’s analysis, submitted April 17.

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April 10, 2000

   A few deals to report: Alabama’s Regions Financial Corp. to buy First National Bancshares of Alexandria, Louisiana for $55 million; Citigroup, Fleet and HSBC deemed eligible to bid on Brazil’s largest state bank, Banespa; the Deutsche - Dresdner proposal falling apart in chaos. The Zions - First Security merger is now officially dead. Fleet has applied to close 26 branches in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. And Citigroup’s Salomon Smith Barney has been ordered to stop advising North Fork on its hostile bid for Dime Savings, since it previously advised (and signed confidentiality agreements) with Dime. But we’ll focus this week on how deals get done, in the United States.

   When a bank is acquired, prior approval is required, in most cases from the Federal Reserve Board. The Fed gives public notice, solicits public comments, and is then supposed to objectively review the record, and rule. The process on paper looks formal, and looks fair. The reality, however, can be quite different.

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April 3, 2000

   For yet another week, the big-ticket action in financial services M&A took place in Europe. On March 30, U.S. insurer Nationwide agreed to buy the U.K.’s Gartmore Investment Management from Royal Bank of Scotland for $.1.64 billion. HSBC over the weekend announced that it’s buying Credit Commercial de France for $10.6 billion, what many viewed as an inflated price. “The days of being able to buy anything very cheaply are well and truly over,” Reuters quoted Hugh Pye, a banking analyst at U.K.-based Robert Fleming. Chase, meanwhile, is said to be closing in on the aforesaid investment bank, Robert Fleming, as well as on Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, which Deutsche-Dresdner would jettison. Back in the U.S., HSBC is closing a branch in a low-/moderate-income part of Long Island, and Chase is at once closing branches in Westchester, Suffolk and Queens counties, while applying to open facilities at GE Capital in Stamford, Connecticut.

  Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.

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     Click here to view ICP's Bank Beat Archive #3 (Aug.-Sept., 1999)

Click here to view ICP's Bank Beat Archive #4 (Oct.-Dec. 31, 1999)

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