Magazine article American Banker

Hungry Out-of-State Firms Poised to Gobble Up Indiana Banks

Magazine article American Banker

Hungry Out-of-State Firms Poised to Gobble Up Indiana Banks

Article excerpt

Hungry Out-of-State Firms Poised to Gobble Up Indiana Banks

What's the biggest bank in Indiana? Banc One Corp.--of Columbus, Ohio. Interstate banking has already robbed Indiana of the boast that its biggest bank grew up at home.

Banc One is not alone. Other hungry regionals are poised in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois to gobble up banks in the Hoosier state. Out there is a sense of urgency--the early bird will catch the worm.

Inside the state, it's a different game. Banks of every size are making themselves as attractive as possible to anyone bigger. If an acquisition or two will help them scream, "Look at me,' they're doing it. Many hope to stay independent; others can't wait for Mr. Right to emerge from the next county or state and carry them off. But there's also an element of level-headedness.

Should Prince Charming decide they're an ugly duckling, they expect their new mini-empires to be profitable.

Bank buying was unleashed last July 1 by Indiana's new multibank holding company law. One or two banks have jockeyed for position early, leaving the rest in a snarling pack, much as in Indiana's premier sporting event, the Indy 500 road race. The watchword is: Buy or be bought--or both--but get as near to the front as possible.

Right now, the price is right for sellers. Banc One's willingness to pay around 2.2 times book value for American Fletcher set a benchmark for what a good Indiana bank is thought to be worth. And at the moment, sellers are in the driver's seat. …

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