Bank of Maryland closes two branchesBank Maryland Corp...


April 08, 1993|By David Conn | David Conn,Staff Writer

Bank of Maryland closes two branches

Bank Maryland Corp. last month closed two of its 13 Bank of Maryland branches, according to the latest report from Maryland's bank commissioner.

That kind of news might not raise an eyebrow if it came from a larger, better-capitalized bank. But Bank Maryland, a six-year-old Towson-based company, is straining to reach the surface.

It continues to report losses, although they have diminished in the last year. And it remains undercapitalized, as far as the FDIC is concerned.

Bank Maryland is still waiting to hear whether the government will accept a plan to restructure some assets so they count toward regulatory capital. The FDIC wants to see the leverage ratio rise to 6 percent.

Still, the company's stock, which trades thinly over the counter, has doubled in the last year, to the $6 range. That has come in no small part from the buying of Chairman H. Bert Christe, who has acknowledged trying to build confidence in the stock. The stock closed at $5.75 yesterday.

Chief Financial Officer A. Gary Rever says closing the branches on Main Street in Annapolis and on Redwood Street downtown was designed to boost efficiency.

"It was a business decision," he said. "They were not performing up to what we were expecting." The moves required five layoffs.

Wintriss will head Mercantile department

Lynn Wintriss, a 15-year veteran of Baltimore law firm Semmes, Bowen & Semmes, will move to Mercantile Bankshares Corp. next month to replace Elizabeth Lutz, who is retiring as head of Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co.'s probate and estate administration department. Ms. Wintriss, 38, was Semmes' first female partner and heads its estates and trust department.

"It's a great opportunity," Ms. Wintriss said yesterday, adding that Semmes' well-publicized financial troubles and defections had nothing to do with her decision to move. "I've been doing this for my entire professional career, and I'm ready for a change."

T. Rowe Price basks in media's limelight

T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. is receiving kudos from the media this month.

First there was last Saturday's glowing New York Times article, in which a reporter spent a grueling 13 hours with the mutual fund company's phone reps on the 10th floor of the IBM building (including a break for Friday night happy hour at nearby Water Street).

And next week, Financial World magazine releases its annual survey of the quality of service of mutual fund issuers. T. Rowe ranks second, up from sixth last year. Price trailed No. 1 Vanguard by 201 points, with 3,087 points overall. In third place was Founders, with 1,800 points.

Sandy Spring bank to note 125th birthday

The year was 1868, and a group of 26 farmers in Olney gathered to discuss how to pull themselves up from the economic stagnation following the Civil War. They each contributed $3.50 to purchase office supplies, and on April 13, 1868, they opened what would become the Sandy Spring National Bank of Maryland. By the end of the day they had collected $383 in deposits from 44 area residents.

It's a testament to the strength of the community bank that neither those depositors -- nor any other -- has ever lost a dime at Sandy Spring, which Tuesday begins a month-long celebration of its 125th anniversary.

Today the bank has $626 million in assets in 11 Montgomery County and Howard County branches. And 1992's net income of $8.6 million was up more than 60 percent from 1991.

"In today's environment, as many area banks have disappeared, submerged by improvidence or [been] consumed by consolidation, we find ourselves in a unique position in the financial world: a modern, full-service institution that maintains the time-honored values and traditions of a true community bank," said Sandy Spring's longtime chairman and CEO, Willard H. Derrick.

Maybe not unique, but rare enough.

Public outcry kills retirement measure

Democracy in action:

* A bill to encourage the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System to set aside up to 10 percent of its money for "economically targeted investments" generated an unusually heavy load of protest calls and cards before and during a public hearing last month, mostly from retired teachers. So, the House Appropriations Committee killed the bill.

* The renowned "Biggus bill," designed to clarify the contractual rights and responsibilities of retail installment lenders and borrowers, has passed both houses and awaits the governor's signature. The bill defuses a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that threatened to sock banks and retailers with losses and lawsuits. Consumer advocates say the compromise leaves protection for borrowers.

* Finally, a bill to impose state supervision on nonbank trust companies, which have cropped up in the last year, has cleared the House and a Senate committee (its companion Senate version has passed the Senate). The bill received strong backing from Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co., the most prominent trust operator in Maryland. But it was watered down at the behest of T. Rowe Price, Alex. Brown Inc. and Legg Mason Inc., which have created trust companies.

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