Magazine article American Banker

Marine Midland Considers Acquiring Large Number of Equibank Branches

Magazine article American Banker

Marine Midland Considers Acquiring Large Number of Equibank Branches

Article excerpt

PITTSBURGH -- Marine Midland Banks Inc. of New York is considering an offer to purchase a large number of Equibank's 78 branches here.

To get around prohibitions against interstate banking, Marine Midland would operate the branches as nonbank banks, at least until the banking laws are changed. The offices would accept demand deposits but not make commercial loans.

It is not clear how many branches would be included, but an individual privy to the negotiations said Marine Midland has shown interest "in all the branches we [Equibank] want to sell."

Marine Midland, the nation's 15th largest bank holding company, has until Wednesday to submit a bid for the branches as part of an offering announced last October by James D. Lowry, chairman of Equibank and its holding company, Equimark Corp.

Mr. Lowry said he was willing to sell or swap between 10 and 25 of his branches for a like number of branches in Philadelphia institutions and between $10 million and $25 million in cash.

After losses totaling more than $70 million over the last four years -- including a $27 million loss in the second quarter of 1984 -- Equibank is under orders of federal and state regulators to raise $100 million in new capital by this summer.

In announcing the proposed swap and sale, Mr. Lowry said it would raise some of the needed capital while providing a low-cost way to break into the Philadelphia market. Equibank, Pittsburgh's third largest bank, has thus far not been able to take advantage of liberalized state banking laws the way its two larger competitors, the Mellon National Corp. and the PNC Financial Corp., have done.

Equibank later decided to entertain offers from institutions outside the Philadelphia market. 'The Interest Is Sincere'

A spokesman for Ryan, Beck & Co., the New Jersy investment banking firm hired by Equibank to handle the transaction, confirmed that Marine Midland has shown interest in the Equibank branches. …

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