Magazine article American Banker

1st Chicago Stripping a Bank Unit of Retail, Small-Business Accounts

Magazine article American Banker

1st Chicago Stripping a Bank Unit of Retail, Small-Business Accounts

Article excerpt

American National Corp., a unit of First Chicago NBD Corp., is shedding most of its consumer and small-business accounts to focus on its core business, middle-market lending.

In July, First Chicago will transfer 30,000 consumer and small-business accounts from the $6 billion-asset American National to its lead bank subsidiary, First National Bank of Chicago.

Although American National will continue to offer a very small number of consumer products, such as checking accounts, it wants to focus exclusively on lending to midsize businesses, company officials said.

"We want to do two things," said American National president David P. Bolger. "We want to further focus American National, and we want to put the retail customers where we're best suited to serve them."

First Chicago said it will also, for the first time, house eight American National offices in First National Bank of Chicago branches. Another ten American National offices in Illinois and Wisconsin will remain stand-alones.

Although analysts said the move is a cost-saving effort, they said it could also blur a valuable line of distinction between the two Chicago bank operations.

"American National has built up a loyal customer base," said James Schutz, an analyst with Chicago Corp. "There's no reason to change the name. That company has been doing business for a long time. Customers have a lot of comfort when somebody calls them from American National."

The strategy seems to be paying off. …

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