National City Corp., which is to become the 13th-largest U.S. banking company next week when two acquisitions close, now faces the hard part: achieving the cost savings it promised.

National City would have $78.2 billion of assets after the deals close. Monday, it is expected to acquire $3.3 billion-asset Fort Wayne (Ind.) National Corp. The next day, it is slated to complete its purchase of $22 billion-asset First of America Bank Corp., Kalamazoo, Mich.

The First of America acquisition should significantly affect earnings in the first quarter. National City said it would take a $350 million pretax charge to account for the First of America deal and a $50 million charge for Fort Wayne National. Most of the charges will be taken in the first quarter. National City has projected reducing First of America's cost base by $243 million and Fort Wayne's by $33 million.

Bradley Hemstreet, a spokesman for National City, said the company hasn't altered its schedule for integrating the acquisitions or cutting expenses. Conversions of the targets' computer systems to National City's system are to begin in the third quarter and are expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

Analyst Fred Cummings of McDonald & Company Securities in Cleveland said he expects National City to start showing cost savings in the second quarter but does not expect to see much new revenue until late 1998 or early 1999.

Mr. Hemstreet said National City began offering its products to First of America's commercial lending customers in January. National City officials said they believe one of their best revenue opportunities will come from selling commercial banking products, such as risk management and cash management, to midsize businesses.

First of America has been more of a small-business and retail bank in its Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois markets. National City hopes it can have the same success stealing business from other banks in those states as it did when it entered Pittsburgh in 1996 with the acquisition of Integra Financial Corp.

Mr. Cummings said, however, that those three states have more large-bank competitors-like First Chicago NBD Corp., Comerica Inc., Michigan National Corp., and Old Kent Financial Corp.-than Pittsburgh, which is dominated by Mellon Bank Corp. and PNC Bank Corp.

Joseph Duwan, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., said National City has been more successful than most big banking companies at folding acquisitions into its operations, getting the cost savings and revenues it promises.

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