Magazine article American Banker

Centura Catches Carolinas' Mutual Fund Fever

Magazine article American Banker

Centura Catches Carolinas' Mutual Fund Fever

Article excerpt

Basketball isn't the only game that's heating up the Carolinas. Banks in the region are pressing headlong into the mutual fund business.

The latest to join the fray is Centura Banks Inc., a $4.1 billion-asset company based in Rocky Mount, N.C.

The bank is getting ready to unveil a family of proprietary mutual funds as a precursor to launching a full-service brokerage.

It is an unusual move for a bank of Centura's size. Most of the roughly 110 banks that manage mutual funds have assets of at least $10 billion.

"Centura is taking a very aggressive stance to fulfill our customers' financial needs," said John Bell, executive vice president.

Centura has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to offer three mutual funds: a growth fund, an income fund, and a tax-free municipal bond fund.

The bank is also waiting for permission to establish a full-service brokerage, to be called Centura Securities, Mr. Bell said.

"We're taking a very pro-active stance instead of a wait-and-see attitude," said Mr. Bell.

The bank's posture is not surprising, given the fierce competition it faces from such giants as NationsBank Corp. and First Union Corp. But according to one industry analyst, Centura may be fighting an uphill battle.

"The industry has become very competitive," said Glen Casey, a consultant with Cerulli Associates. "Centura may be acting defensively to stem the outflow of assets."

'Strong Customer Base'

Mr. …

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