Magazine article American Banker

Wachovia Purchases Harris Bank Unit

Magazine article American Banker

Wachovia Purchases Harris Bank Unit

Article excerpt

Wachovia Corp. said Monday that it had acquired the international correspondent-banking payment-processing business of Bank of Montreal's Harris Bank International Corp.

The purchase adds about 200 clients to the Charlotte company's roster of overseas customers and boosts its daily transaction volume by about 20%. The deal does not include facilities or employees. Wachovia did not say how much it paid.

George Doolittle, a managing director and the head of Wachovia's global payments services group, said it currently has about 3,000 correspondent banking customers, almost equally divided between U.S. and foreign banks. It processes about 57,000 payments a day worth about $160 billion.

Ian Blair, a spokesman for Bank of Montreal, said Monday's sale includes only Harris' international business, not the parent's U.S. and Canadian correspondent banks.

Selling the business "is consistent with our transnational strategy," Mr. Blair said. "Our focus is on North America."

The deal also calls for Wachovia to handle U.S. dollar correspondent payments for Bank of Montreal.

Mr. Doolittle said Wachovia wants to help lead the continued consolidation of the global correspondent banking payments business, which has shrunk to a handful of large competitors. Wachovia's competitors include Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of New York Co. Inc., American Express Co., and Deutsche Bank AG.

"We see a lot of consolidation going on in the [global] payments industry, and we want to be in the final three or four," Mr. …

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