NationsBank Corp. may be underestimating the amount of deposits it will have to unload to complete its planned merger with Barnett Banks Inc., some analysts say.
The bank said last week in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it planned to sell $1.9 billion of deposits and $1.1 billion of loans in Florida to comply with antitrust regulations. A spokeswoman added that the bank intends to sell $900 million of deposits that Barnett acquired Oct. 1 from First of America Corp., raising the proposed deposit sale to $2.8 billion.
Those numbers, considerably less than NationsBank forecast when it announced the merger, are too low, some analysts said.
Kenneth H. Thomas, an independent banking analyst in Miami who is critical of the merger, said the Charlotte, N.C., banking company should have to sell between $5.6 billion and $10.9 billion of deposits in Florida.
NationsBank's number "strikes me as low," said Edward Najarian, bank analyst at Wheat First Butcher Singer, Richmond, Va. But he noted that divestitures concern regulators more than investors.
Acquiring banks frequently underestimate how much of the new company they will shed.
For example, Wells Fargo & Co. proposed selling $1 billion of deposits as it launched its hostile bid for First Interstate Bancorp. But regulators ultimately forced Wells to sell off $2.54 billion.
BankAmerica Corp. originally proposed selling only $4 billion of Security Pacific Corp.'s deposits when it bought the Seattle-based bank in 1992. Ultimately it had to give up $8.5 billion.
And Society Corp. proposed selling $850 million Ameritrust Corp. assets in 1992, but eventually had to unload $1 billion.
People who advise on mergers say it only makes sense for banks to initially propose a low number in discussions regarding divestitures with state and federal regulators.
NationsBank acknowledged in its SEC filing that its proposal could well be low, saying, "There can be no assurance that the divestitures exceeding $1.9 billion will not be required."