Bank is set to add jobs downtown First Maryland plans to move hundreds of positions from Pa.

'Good for the city'

Move contrasts downsizing efforts of other giants

December 13, 1997|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Bill Atkinson contributed to this article.

Amid a wave of corporate downsizing that has decimated the city's once-robust banking industry, First Maryland Bancorp is preparing to bring hundreds of new jobs to Baltimore.

The bank's decision to shift jobs downtown from Pennsylvania beginning as early as January comes less than six months after the Baltimore-based subsidiary of Allied-Irish Banks PLC completed the biggest acquisition in its history, buying Dauphin Deposit Corp. for $1.4 billion.

"We're definitely moving functions here, but at this point, we don't have a firm grasp on just how many people," said Jerome W. Evans, a First Maryland executive vice president. "But the fact that we're adding jobs is significant, and it's good for the city."

The bank is negotiating with the city to lease as much as 25,000 square feet of office space in a 20-story tower at 7 E. Redwood St., which the city acquired for $5.6 million late last year.

"We're actively speaking to them about expanding their presence in 7 E. Redwood St.," said M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC).

If the First Maryland commitment comes to fruition, it would mark the first deal at the 157,000-square-foot building since the BDC bought it from Legg Mason Inc. as part of a deal to keep the investment house's headquarters downtown.

First Maryland's negotiations with the BDC are focused on leasing four floors in the 72-year-old building, at a cost of roughly $1.5 million.

The building at 7 E. Redwood St. is within a block of First Maryland's headquarters at 25 S. Charles St.

"We're optimistic at this point," Brodie said. "It would be a great plus for the building and set the tone with a quality tenant."

First Maryland's decision to expand in Baltimore stands in stark contrast to NationsBank Corp., First Union Corp. and Crestar Financial Corp., out-of-state financial giants that have slashed thousands of local jobs in the wake of acquisitions of longtime local banks.

NationsBank alone terminated more than 1,000 Maryland employees after buying Maryland National Bank in 1993, moving operations performed by those workers to North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.

"We're headquartered here and our major operations center is here, so when we acquire other banks, it's just a natural step that we would grow here because we're a Baltimore company and we're committed here," Evans said. "So there's an influx of jobs, whereas other companies headquartered out of state would just naturally move operations to existing locations."

Although the plan has not yet been made final, First Maryland officials intend to centralize Dauphin's computer operations, check processing functions, finance, trust and treasury departments, and human resource operations to Baltimore from Pennsylvania, Evans said.

Those divisions are likely to add several hundred employees to First Maryland's local ranks, bank officials said.

Currently, First Maryland has 700 workers downtown.

At least some of the Pennsylvania employees will move to First Maryland's nine-story operations center at Paca and Pratt streets, Evans said, and workers at the center would move to 7 E. Redwood St.

When the Dauphin acquisition was announced in January, First Maryland said it expected to save $48 million through consolidation by 1999.

With Dauphin, Pennsylvania's fourth-largest financial institution, First Maryland gained $6 billion in assets, 98 branches, 2,700 employees and 92 ATMs.

First Maryland has aggressively pushed north in an effort to expand its customer base and geographic reach since buying York Bank and Trust Co. in 1992, to fend off competition from larger financial institutions such as NationsBank.

In all, the $17.3 billion company operates 300 branches from southern Pennsylvania to Northern Virginia under the First National Bank of Maryland, Dauphin Deposit Bank & Trust Co., York Bank and Trust Co. and First Omni Bank N.A. names.

Pub Date: 12/13/97

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