One year after its attempt to forge a merger deal with Mellon Bank Corp., Bank of New York Co. is standing tall.
Very tall, in fact. The bank's market capitalization reached an all-time high of $31.1 billion last week, up 30% from a year earlier.
It is a significant milestone, said Thomas A. Renyi, Bank of New York's chairman and chief executive officer, and one that reflects the bank's carefully orchestrated efforts to sustain double-digit revenue growth, control expenses, manage its capital-and get the message out to Wall Street.
"We want to be one of the largest in market cap," Mr. Renyi said in an interview Friday. Bank of New York now ranks eighth among banks, up from 13th last year.
"The investment community is recognizing that we have a solid long-term strategy for independence," Mr. Renyi said. The larger market cap "does make us less vulnerable."
With that, the $65 billion-asset banking company seems to have put the Mellon episode to rest.
Bank of New York launched its campaign to woo Mellon shareholders with a $24 billion offer on April 22, 1998. A series of increasingly hostile public statements between the banks culminated May 19 with Mellon's rejection of Bank of New York's offer. Bank of New York officially withdrew its proposal May 20.
Mr. Renyi now says the bank is concentrating on building on the successes of its long-term strategy. Growth in the capital base has been one of four goals. The other three are bulking up capabilities in fee businesses like securities processing, enhancing the cross-selling potential of its business with corporations and institutions, and investing in technology.
Bank of New York has its sights on 14% to 16% revenue growth this year and 12% growth in earnings per share, Mr. Renyi said.
The bank's solid track record of double-digit growth makes it "an extremely desirable" target for other banks, said Carla D'Arista, an analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co. But Bank of New York has been considered more of a buyer, she and other analysts said
The bank made 11 acquisitions last year, five of them for securities processing portfolios. It has averaged eight deals a year in the last five years.
In March the bank said it would buy the custody and processing business of Royal Bank of Scotland in a deal that would vault it into a prime position for growth in Europe.
Most acquisitions are paid for in cash, but analysts said a stronger capital base gives Bank of New York more bargaining power with potential sellers.
"It gives them pricing power," said Stephen Biggar, an analyst at S&P Equity Research. "They are a company that's able to pay an attractive price because they are also able to get the synergies and the cost cuts."