NationsBank in Baltimore to try to win city's heart

April 09, 1993|By David Conn | David Conn,Staff Writer

Top executives of NationsBank Corp. came to Baltimore yesterday, armed with charts, graphs and statistics, all aimed at proving two main points: that the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking company, soon to be Maryland's largest, is good for stockholders and good for the community.

The company held a breakfast meeting at the Cross Keys Inn to present the 1992 results of its community investment programs in the Baltimore area and Maryland. The presentation to civic activists was part of a 29-city tour, called Report to Communities, that the company launched this month to review its community lending programs in most of its larger markets.

At lunch, NationsBank's chairman and chief executive, Hugh L. McColl Jr., spoke to security analysts about why the company's stock was a solid investment. If NationsBank completes its proposed purchase of MNC Financial Inc. this year, as expected, a large base of the company's shareholders would be in the Baltimore area.

Although he declined to predict the extent of layoffs that might result from the merger, Mr. McColl assured that "they'll be less than they were for other mergers" because of the relative lack of overlap between MNC's Maryland branches and those of NationsBank, which has focused its business in the Sun Belt.

Mr. McColl said that MNC's chief executive, Frank P. Bramble, will have responsibility for overseeing the merger -- assuming that MNC's shareholders and the regulators approve it.

Among other things, civic and business leaders said, they will be watching NationsBank carefully to see what kind of corporate citizen the country's fourth-largest banking company will be in Maryland.

"Maryland National's made a lot of progress," said Tom Chalkley, a staff member with the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Investment, which has negotiated community lending agreements with several Baltimore-area banks. "We're looking to see how they continue" Maryland National's programs, Mr. Chalkley said after NationsBank's morning program, which was presented by J. Harold Chandler, president of the company's Metro region, which runs from Northern Virginia to Baltimore.

At the end of 1991 and after considerable criticism from consumer groups, NationsBank promised to make at least $10 billion in community investment loans over the next decade.

"When we made our 10-year, $10 billion pledge, we also said we would tell you how we are doing against that goal," Mr. Chandler said.

Nationwide, the company lent $2.2 billion last year to low- and moderate-income borrowers, defined as those with no more than 80 percent of the median income of their markets.

In Baltimore, where NationsBank has 14 branches, the company made $11.3 million in community investment loans -- 63 percent of them to consumers and the rest to businesses, Mr. Chandler said. The company made $6.5 million in small-business loans in the Baltimore area; nearly three-quarters were for less than $50,000.

Statewide, NationsBank lent $102 million to low- and moderate-income borrowers; 65 percent of the loans were to businesses, the rest to consumers. Small-business loans amounted to $56.8 million, of which 70 percent were under $50,000.

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