Magazine article American Banker

Some Big Deals Get Done, Some Big Names Are Gone

Magazine article American Banker

Some Big Deals Get Done, Some Big Names Are Gone

Article excerpt

Three of the country's top 50 banking companies and one of the top 25 vanished Thursday with the clinching of three mergers.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. closed its $58 billion acquisition of Bank One Corp., Regions Financial Corp. merged with Union Planters Corp. in a $6 billion deal that eliminated the latter's name, and National City Corp. bought Provident Financial Group Inc. for $2.1 billion.

Observers were hard pressed to remember when a trio of bank deals of this caliber closed in one day, even in the megamerger-heavy 1998.

"I don't remember three banks disappearing like that," said Richard Bookbinder, managing member of the Bookbinder Capital Management LLC fund of funds. "And if it did, it wouldn't be banks of that magnitude."

The impact on bank stock trading may be minimal, but it is clear that the number of midsize regional banks is dwindling, said Thomas B. Michaud, a vice chairman and the chief operating officer at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

The top 20 have upped their market share in recent years, Mr. Michaud said.

"There is a race on where four or five banks want to be that nationwide provider of financial services and banking," he said.

JPMorgan Chase is definitely among those. Regions, meanwhile, has created a southern powerhouse with assets of $80 billion, Mr. Michaud noted. According to Dec. 31 data from SNL Financial, the Birmingham, Ala., company is now No. 23 among U.S. banks and thrifts and the $131 billion-asset National City of Cleveland is No. 9.

Those numbers might seem a pittance next to the new $1.1 trillion-asset colossus that is JPM Chase, which passed Bank of America Corp. into second place (Citigroup Inc. is No. 1 at $1.3 trillion). B of A held the No. 2 spot briefly after buying FleetBoston Financial Corp. on April 1.

Regions will remain a component of the Standard & Poor's 500 index, and on Thursday it replaced Bank One in the Philadelphia Stock Exchange /KBW index, which has benchmark status for bank stocks. …

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