David A. Coulter, chairman and chief executive officer of BankAmerica Corp., said he anticipates combinations between large banks and technology companies-if legislation allows them.
"You won't see a General Motors buying a bank," Mr. Coulter said at a press conference before the bank's annual meeting last week. "But you will see banks and technology-information firms getting together because technology is affecting this business to such a degree."
He said he could not predict whether BankAmerica would be interested in such a deal in the near term, but he stressed that the debate in Washington on breaking down the barriers between banking and other commercial sectors is "very important."
"To be a global player you have to be powerful in the U.S.," Mr. Coulter said. "But here you're forced to play with one arm tied behind your back."
As for other acquisitions BofA might be interested in, Mr. Coulter said a "big bang," such as a merger with NationsBank Corp., is not a high priority.
The two banks were believed to have held talks as recently as the fall of 1995.
More likely, Mr. Coulter has said on other occasions, are smaller add-on deals that bring new products lines or boost existing ones, similar to the bank's recent joint venture with D.E. Shaw & Co., a New York investment bank.
Mr. Coulter also said the bank is still working with the California attorney general's office to have an independent auditor help resolve a dispute over its municipal bond practice. The state has sued the bank for hundreds of millions of dollars, alleging improprieties going back decades.
Mr. Coulter said he felt it was unnecessary for the city of San Francisco, which filed before the state did, to make the matter public.
"I don't know why they needed to hold a press conference," he said. "That strikes at the image of BofA, and that upsets me."
During the annual meeting, a shareholder asked why the problems in the municipal bond department were not disclosed in the annual report. Mr. Coulter responded that the bank believes that the matter is "immaterial" and therefore did not need to be included.
About 650 shareholders packed into a ballroom at the Los Angeles Sheraton Grande Hotel to hear about Mr. Coulter's first full year as CEO. A handful of shareholders peppered him with questions about his compensation, retirement benefits, the independence of auditor Ernst & Young, and the bankruptcy of one of the directors, real estate developer Peter Bedford, who was reelected.
One questioner complained that another director, Mattel Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Jill Barad, left the meeting shortly after the lights went down.
Stockholders also approved a two-for-one stock split.