1st Union, Fidelity complete merger Md. to get 52 branches of sixth-largest bank

January 03, 1996|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

First Union Corp. and First Fidelity Bancorp. said yesterday that they have finalized their merger, creating a mega-bank with offices in 12 states, including Maryland, where it will have 52 branches and $3.5 billion in deposits.

Joseph A. Cicero, who headed Newark, N.J.-based First Fidelity's Baltimore unit, was named the area president of First Union's Baltimore region.

A year ago, First Fidelity acquired Baltimore Bancorp, where Mr. Cicero was chief financial officer.

The merger creates the nation's sixth-largest banking company with estimated assets of $126 billion. The Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union's territory stretches from Connecticut to Florida, reaching 35 percent of the U.S. population and four of the nation's five highest personal-income areas. The company now operates 2,000 branches which serve more than 11 million customers.

Edward E. Crutchfield, First Union's chairman and chief executive, said the merger creates "an innovative and dynamic financial services leader."

The company will begin installing its green and white First Union signs this summer at more than 680 First Fidelity branches in Maryland, New Jersey and four other states.

"You have now a large institution that can provide a greater array of services and products," Mr. Cicero said.

The new products include:

* First Union's CAP account, which is like a checking account from which money can be swept into an investing account.

* Immediate decisions on applications for most loans, including auto, personal, home equity and home mortgage loans.

* Easier access to a broad range of mutual funds through the First Union-advised Evergreen family of funds.

* More annuities and other insurance products.

Mr. Cicero said meshing the two companies' operations will take time, but once it is completed he'll begin growing the Baltimore operations. He didn't give any growth projections, but said the strategy is an aggressive one.

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