American National Corp., a unit of First Chicago NBD Corp., is shedding most of its consumer and small-business accounts to focus on its core business, middle-market lending.
In July, First Chicago will transfer 30,000 consumer and small-business accounts from the $6 billion-asset American National to its lead bank subsidiary, First National Bank of Chicago.
Although American National will continue to offer a very small number of consumer products, such as checking accounts, it wants to focus exclusively on lending to midsize businesses, company officials said.
"We want to do two things," said American National president David P. Bolger. "We want to further focus American National, and we want to put the retail customers where we're best suited to serve them."
First Chicago said it will also, for the first time, house eight American National offices in First National Bank of Chicago branches. Another ten American National offices in Illinois and Wisconsin will remain stand-alones.
Although analysts said the the move is a cost-saving effort, they said it could also blur a valuable line of distinction between the two Chicago bank operations.
"American National has built up a loyal customer base," said James Schutz, an analyst with Chicago Corp. "There's no reason to change the name. That company has been doing business for a long time. Customers have a lot of comfort when somebody calls them from American National."
The strategy seems to be paying off. American National, although small in asset size, contributed $90 million of First Chicago NBD's $1.2 billion in total 1995 net income.
First Chicago chairman Verne Istock said the American National name has a long history in Chicago and that in the short term there's no plan to stop using it. Indeed, there has been some speculation that First Chicago's name would be changed to American National companywide.
First Chicago, with $115 billion in total assets, is still in the process of combining its branches and computer systems after last year's merger with Detroit-based NBD Bancorp. The conversions are expected to be completed in late July, the same time the American National accounts will be converted into First Chicago accounts.
Further evidence that American National's franchise will continue to operate as a separate unit was the appointment last month of its new president. Mr. Bolger replaced former president and chairman Alan Delp, who recently died.
First Chicago officials said housing the two banks together under one roof is practical, especially since American National is doing away with most of its consumer accounts. The move comes at the same time that 600 NBD Illinois business accounts will be transferred to American National.
Company officials said First National Bank of Chicago branches and American National offices will be physically separated at the eight locations where they will share space and that each bank will have its own sign.