After suspending merger talks with one trade group, the Indiana Bankers Association has begun serious negotiations with another.

John W. Perry, the chairman of the Indiana Bankers Association, said last week that the 102-year-old organization is close to announcing a merger with the Indiana League of Savings Institutions. A deal could be reached by Oct. 1, he said.

"Certainly we would end up with a more successful and more solvent IBA," said Mr. Perry, who is also senior vice president at Terre Haute First National Bank, a unit of First Financial Corp. there.

The Indiana Bankers had been negotiating with the Community Bankers Association, but those talks broke off over issues involving personnel and the Community Bankers' wish to keep "community" in the name of the merged organization.

Indiana Bankers president William H. King said he is "hopeful" that the two sides will put aside their differences and eventually combine. About 80% of the Community Bankers' members already belong to the larger Indiana Bankers Association.

But Joseph DeHaven, the president of the Community Bankers, said his group has just renewed the lease on its building and has no intention of combining with another group.

Trade group mergers are hardly unique to Indiana. Nationwide bank consolidation has left trade groups with fewer banks to recruit and forced them to consider pairing with one-time rivals.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Indiana has lost about a third of its banks in the past five years. And though dues revenue has not dropped much in that time at the Indiana Bankers Association, Mr. King said he does not expect revenues to increase either.

"We wanted to do this while we are both viable," he said.

The Indiana Bankers and the League of Savings Institutions already know one another well. They jointly publish the monthly magazine Hoosier Banker. And the League of Savings Institutions, which represents about 70 thrifts, leases space in the Indiana Bankers' office building in Indianapolis.

Which name to use is not an issue. The thrift trade group's members have already agreed to use the Indiana Bankers Association name, Mr. Perry said.

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