MNC stock rises nearly 50% on news of sale plan

January 11, 1991|By Peter H. Frank

MNC Financial Inc. was among the biggest percentage gainers on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, moving up nearly 50 percent, to $2.75 a share, on reports that the company was nearing a plan to sell its credit-card division through a public sale of stock.

Buoyed in late-afternoon trading, MNC gained 87.5 cents a share and was the sixth most actively traded stock on the NYSE with 1.3 million shares changing hands. MNC, parent of Maryland National Bank and American Security Bank, has 85.5 million shares outstanding.

Reversing the slide in MNC stock were published reports yesterday that MNC would announce soon a plan to sell MBNA America, its credit-card unit. Sources have said MNC will spin the division off in a public stock sale and that MNC Chairman Alfred Lerner might buy part of the newly separated company.

Reports varied yesterday, however, regarding Mr. Lerner's likely involvement in the deal. Sources have said that though no deal had been firmly set, Mr. Lerner and the Cleveland-based insurance company of which he is chairman, the Progressive Corp., might purchase 15 percent to 30 percent of MBNA.

A spokesman for MNC, Daniel G. Finney, declined to comment directly on the various reports, saying only, "We're keeping all of our options open while pursuing a variety of activities, which are all aimed at meeting MNC's forthcoming obligations."

Yesterday's trading in the banking company's stock continued a volatile week for the troubled Baltimore-based company. MNC had fallen $1.50 a share, to $1.875, during the first three days of the week.

Analysts blamed this week's decline primarily on investors made nervous by a combination of the federal takeover of the Bank of New England earlier this week and a $271 million debt payment that MNC faces Tuesday.

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