Magazine article American Banker

First Union Corp. Places a Big Bet on Different Kind of Export Business: North Carolina Bank Firm Ups Stake in Forwarding and Customhouse Business

Magazine article American Banker

First Union Corp. Places a Big Bet on Different Kind of Export Business: North Carolina Bank Firm Ups Stake in Forwarding and Customhouse Business

Article excerpt

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- First Union Corp. is increasing its stake in an unusual business for bank holding companies-- freight forwarding and customhouse operations.

In May 1984 the bank holding company became the first to establish its own freight forwarding firm -- First Union export Trading Co. -- and now the $8.2 billion-asset company has agreed in principle to buy an old Norfolk forwarder-broker.

For an undisclosed sum, First Union plans to buy Norton & Ellis Inc., a closely held company founded in 1922 in the Virginia port city.

"The acquisition of Norton & Ellis brings to First Union Export Trading Co. a great deal of expertise and resources which were developed over their more than half-century of service to the export and import industries," said David H. Dorminey, a senior vice president in the internatinal division of First Union National Bank and president of the new trading company.

First Union Export has a staff of three. Norton & Ellis employs 28.

David G. Morrow, general manager of First Union Export, said the moves into the new area follow an industry survey of the Southeast. It revealed a lot of relatively small forwarder-brokers, usually closely held corporations, partnerships, or sole ownerships, typically with one or two offices.

"We view the industry as being much like the banking industry was a couple of years ago before deregulation set in," said Mr. Morrow.

Implicit will be consolidation in coming years, and First Union stands to be in position, assuming all goes well, to gather other companies into its corporate structure. …

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