NationsBank planning to lay off 191 workers Sale, transfer of units to affect employees in Towson, Columbia

December 06, 1996|By Greg Schneider | Greg Schneider,SUN STAFF

NationsBank has sent layoff notices to 191 workers in Towson and Columbia after selling one of its business units and transferring another.

The bank sold its Affinity Banking unit, which was based in Columbia, to MBNA Corp. and Household Finance. That unit employed 106 people in Columbia; 95 of those are losing their jobs Jan. 6. The remaining 11 will be laid off Jan. 15.

Another 20 Affinity Banking workers in Towson are also losing their jobs.

NTC NationsBank had acquired the Affinity Banking unit, with a $1.1 billion portfolio, when it bought MNC Financial Inc. in 1993. The unit provided niche banking services through groups and organizations -- for example, unsecured member loans through the National Education Association or credit cards tied to university alumni associations.

Household Finance bought the unit's $400 million AFL-CIO portfolio and MBNA bought the rest.

The low-key sale occurred Aug. 31, but none of the companies announced it. The transaction became apparent this week only after the state released job-loss figures that included the positions in Towson and Columbia.

Analyst George M. Salem of Gerard Klauer Mattison in New York hadn't heard about the Affinity Banking sale, but played down its significance.

"It's not minor for the people who might have lost jobs, but from the point of view of having it affect stock I don't think it's an event," Salem said.

A NationsBank spokeswoman said Affinity Banking was sold because it did not fit with the corporate strategy of trying to engage each customer in a variety of relationships.

"Through the Affinity Bank, we generally sold a credit card to a customer or we sold an unsecured loan to a customer, but that was all the relationship we had with them," said spokeswoman Mary Alice Rogers. "What we like to do is get someone as a checking account customer, a savings account customer, we sell them CDs, we get their mortgage -- develop more relationships."

Another 65 workers at a direct sales center in Towson have been notified that their jobs will be transferred to Richmond, Va., in mid-January. The center once employed 132 workers, but about half of them left after NationsBank announced over the summer that the entire facility would be relocated.

The 65 who remain can seek transfers to Richmond or jobs in other parts of NationsBank, Rogers said.

Joanne Stevens, another NationsBank spokeswoman, said all the laid-off employees will receive severance pay, career counseling and job placement help.

NationsBank, based in Charlotte, N.C., remains the bank with the largest operations in Maryland. It has more than 200 branches and employs about 4,000 workers.

The company's stock was down $2.0156 yesterday, closing at $95.875.

Pub Date: 12/06/96

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