Magazine article American Banker

Mergers Involving Two Major Firms in North Carolina Follow Supreme Court Ruling on Regional Compacts

Magazine article American Banker

Mergers Involving Two Major Firms in North Carolina Follow Supreme Court Ruling on Regional Compacts

Article excerpt

Appraising the two major mergers announced last week in the Southeast, one analyst waced biblical.

"Two big deals in one day, and one of them the biggest deal ever made in the Southeast," he said in an almost reverential tone. "and it took them seven days to put together, kind of like God."

What was at work was more the doing of the supreme Court than the Supreme Being, however. The high court's decision two weeks ago in favor of regional banking compacts apparently was the impetus for the announcement of merger deals between the Wachovia Corp. and the First Atlanta Corp. and between the First Union corp. and Atlantic Bancorp.

Those mergers would result in a quartet of similarly sized banking companies atop the developing southeeastern regional zone. The four largest organizations -- Wachovia-First Atlanta, First Union, NCNB Inc., and the proposed SunTrust Banks Inc. -- each would have assets of $14 billion to $16 billion and a concentration of holdings in Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia.

"They're all pretty well capitalized," said Jon Moore, an analyst with Robinson Humphrey/American Express Inc. "The question now seems to be, 'What's left to buy?'" But their sheer size, he said, makes it likely that this group will continue to be active in the acquisition market.

The Wachovia-First Atlanta merger would have the biggest price tag of any deal in the First Wachovia Corp., a $15.5 billion-asset firm with offices in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wavhovia's home base, and Atlanta.

Some analysts, while they praised both organizations, were surprised that Wachovia -- long deemed one of the nation's premier regional banks -- would pick a partner almost its size and in a major market like Atlanta. …

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