NationsBank silent on MBNA rumorHere are the clues:Several...

BANKING & FINANCE

June 10, 1993|By David Conn | David Conn,Staff Writer

NationsBank silent on MBNA rumor

Here are the clues:

Several top executives of MNC Financial Inc. recently have moved to MBNA Corp.; MNC Chairman Alfred Lerner (who also happens to chair MBNA) has boosted his stake in the Delaware credit card company to 12.1 percent from 11.1 percent; MBNA used to be a unit of MNC, which is now being bought by NationsBank Corp.

What does it add up to? A NationsBank takeover of MBNA. Well, that's the gossip, or "rumor du jour," as NationsBank spokesman Dick Stilley dismissed it. For the record, "I haven't heard those rumors, and wouldn't comment if I had," Mr. Stilley said.

But several banking industry officials and some investors say they've heard it. The notion may have been fueled by Mr. Lerner's purchase of 1 million shares of MBNA last month, bringing his stake to 12 million.

Or maybe it was fueled by the news that Sunil F. Antani, executive vice president in charge of MNC's corporate operations and information services, will resign effective Monday to become senior executive vice president for the same departments at MBNA. Mr. Antani's move follows that of his former boss, Ron Davies.

Coincidence? Probably. Absurd? Maybe. Just remember: You heard it here first.

Rukeyser MasterCard won't have his likeness

Do you know him? He appears weekly on a popular stock market talk show, taped at Maryland Public Television, and he has his fingers in any number of investment-related products, including a best-selling newsletter. But no one knows him when he travels to . . . . Come to think of it, there are few places that Wall $treet Week host Louis Rukeyser can travel to incognito these days.

It's no wonder, then, that he's decided not to put his face on the new Louis Rukeyser Wall Street Club gold MasterCard.

The no-fee card, available next month only to the 430,000-some members of Mr. Rukeyser's investment club, will entitle holders to brokerage, quotation and long-distance phone services, according to Business Week, although it's not clear what the costs will be for those extra services.

Take that, Karl Malden, and don't leave Wall $treet without it.

Md. Federal Bancorp looks good to Knott

What does David Knott see in Maryland Federal Bancorp Inc.? A 100 percent gain on his investment.

That's the goal, at any rate. Mr. Knott, of D. M. Knott Limited Partnership in Syosset, N.Y., last month boosted his stake in the Hyattsville thrift holding company to 8.7 percent of the 3.18 million outstanding shares.

He already has more than doubled the return on his original investment of about 117,000 shares in the summer of 1991. A few weeks ago he bought another 14,300 shares, at prices ranging from $22.37 to $23; the stock closed unchanged yesterday at $22.50.

"I think it is certainly one of the best thrifts in the country," said Mr. Knott. "In terms of asset quality it is impeccable. It's got a top-flight guy running it, in Bob Halleck."

The company is selling at just above book value, and roughly 6.5 times this year's expected earnings, according to Mr. Knott. If recent thrift purchases are any indication, Maryland Federal could command two times book value in a takeover, said Mr. Knott, whose company manages about $165 million in assets for various clients.

"To me it's a real jewel," he added, "and to be able to buy something of this quality, at around book [value] . . . is real attractive."

Bank of Baltimore celebrates 175th year

Yes, those were fireworks you saw over the Inner Harbor Saturday night. And no, they were not celebrating the 60th anniversary of America's abandonment of the gold standard.

The $25,000 display, orchestrated by Fireworks Productions Inc., was part of the hoopla surrounding the Bank of Baltimore's 175th anniversary.

Ferris, Baker Watts promotes 4, expands

In the executive suite:

Ferris, Baker Watts Inc. has a new chief operating officer in Roger L. Calvert, a director, who was named COO and executive vice president at the company's annual meeting last month. Newly elected vice presidents were Kwasi Frempong, in public finance; Diana L. Duty, a mutual fund trader; and Mary Lou Pizanis, in purchase and sales.

Incidentally, Ferris has just opened a seven-broker office in Huntington, W.Va., according to Lou Akers, who heads retail operations. That makes 18 offices total, and 170 brokers for the Washington- and Baltimore-based firm.

Smith, Barney's Lutherville office has lost two top-producing brokers to Dean Witter's downtown office. Rick Faby and Tony Munafo made the move Friday.

Brokers at other firms say Dean Witter is due to add at least three more brokers soon. Manager James Kirchner wouldn't comment on hiring plans for his 36-member Dean Witter office, except to say, "we're pretty much happy with where we are right now."

Legg Mason Inc. vice president and utilities analyst Amy Caplan Stern has left, sort of. Ms. Stern has joined Clark/Bardes Inc., a Towson executive compensation firm. But she'll continue to serve as a utilities analyst for Legg Mason on a consulting basis.

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