Former Postmaster General Anthony Frank says he wants local investors to help launch his new bank in Arizona. But so far, none have signed on.

Since announcing his ambitious plans two months ago, Mr. Frank and Richard W. Decker, who will be the bank's president and chief executive, have unsuccessfully sought money from several Arizona syndicates known to be interested in buying into banking in the state.

The two men have lined up enough financing from out of state to pull off the deal, most observers agree. But Mr. Frank and Mr. Decker believe local investors are among the keys to success for their community banking strategy.

Local money will come on board, they predict, when they make public the identities of prominent Arizona business-people they have recruited for the bank's board of directors.

"We are going to start announcing names in the next three to six weeks," Mr. Frank said in an interview. "Their being announced will open things up with investors."

A Patchwork of Branches

Independent Bancorp of Arizona, as the new venture is called, will be patched together from 49 branches that BankAmerica has agreed to sell because of its merger with Security Pacific Corp. The sale is expected to be completed in October.

Using County NatWest Securities as its investment banker, Independent has lined up the financing it needs to complete the deal, said Mr. Frank, who will be chairman. Among those putting up money is former baseball commissioner Peter V. Ueberroth.

Because of a runroff of accounts, the BankAmerica package has shrunk to about $1.9 billion in deposits, about $200 million less than estimated in April.

Need for Capital Declines

Independent will also get about $1.2 billion in financing, mostly consumer loans and residential mortgages. The company is aiming to originate some $200 million to $250 million in new credits per year.

Independent's target is to raise financing equal to 10% of deposits to capitalize the bank and cover expenses. Because of the shrinkage, the company needs to raise less than $200 million, compared with the original goal of $220 million.

"As deposits run off, we need less capital," noted Mr. Decker. Equity will equal between 8% and 9% of assets.

The deposit runoff is also trimming the amount Independent is paying BankAmerica. Independent agreed to a premium of 0.8% of deposits. That equals about $15 million, some $1.5 million less than originally calculated. Under the deal, BankAmerica is also providing $8 million to $10 million in free data processing services.

Independent Bancorp of Arizona, a one-bank holding company, will be structured as a collection of community-based operating units rather than a single statewide organization. It will be organized into four to six divisions based in Phoenix, Tucson, and several other locations.

Each division will function as if it were an independent community bank with its own president, credit officer, and advisory board recruited from the local business community.

Mr. Frank acknowledged that the structure will be slightly more costly than a single unit. But he said the benefits of being responsive to local markets outweighed any disadvantages.

Keeping It Local

"We want to make the bank very unique, with local roots and local decision-making," said Mr. Frank, who will serve as Independent's chairman. "One of our missions is to avoid being carpetbaggers."

The aim is to create an organization best able to exploit the niche selected for Independent as a lender to small business and lower middle market companies.

The company, which will have about $1.9 billion in assets, will not try to compete head-to-head with Banc One Corp., Columbus, Ohio; BankAmerica Corp.; or First Interstate Bancorp, Los Angeles, which operate the Grand Canyon State's major consumer banks.

To avoid regulatory red tape, Independent will not seek separate banking licenses for its local units. But it may apply for separate bank charters after about a year of operation. In any case, it will carry out back-office functions centrally.

The company must also put together a staff. The bank already has received 150 resumes. Mr. Decker said Independent was giving preference to Arizona-based bankers.

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