Banc One Corp. is wasting no time in putting First Commerce Corp., its new Louisiana banking house, in order.
Within the next two weeks, the Columbus, Ohio, banking company is expected to announce a series of closings that could total several dozen offices, some observers said.
Banc One completed its acquisition of First Commerce, New Orleans, on June 12. The deal brought Banc One 144 branches in Louisiana, giving it more than 250 in the state.
Chris Spencer, a spokesman for Banc One's Louisiana operations, confirmed that the company plans to make a branch closing announcement in about two weeks. But Banc One is still determining how many offices would be affected, he said.
"We're currently looking at the retail distribution network we have in Louisiana and making some decisions," Mr. Spencer said.
The bank is examining branch profitability, customer traffic patterns, and branch locations, he added.
The closings would come on the heels of a two-pronged deal to sell 25 branches to competitors Whitney Holding Corp. and ISB Financial.
Banc One is also expected to notify employees in Louisiana soon about job losses in connection with the $3.5 billion acquisition.
Banc One, which has 3,000 unfilled posts companywide, may offer workers these jobs, said spokesman John A. Russell.
"We have a very elaborate placement process," he said. "We will try to match people up with those jobs."
The First Commerce activities will cause Banc One to take a second- quarter restructuring charge of more than $100 million, analysts said.
Banc One agreed to buy $9.5 billion-asset First Commerce last October. But it and the investment community have focused on a much larger deal of late-Banc One's planned merger of equals with First Chicago NBD Corp.
Still, analysts said, there is much work to do in Louisiana, where Banc One took the No. 1 market share with its First Commerce deal. Analysts said it is not a market to be ignored.
"Louisiana will be one of their larger markets," said Joseph Duwan, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "It's a sizable market, and it's growing."
Peter Gwaltney, chief operating officer of the Louisiana Bankers Association, said community banks are moving to take advantage of the consolidation of one of Louisiana's largest and oldest banking companies by moving into new markets and appealing to state pride.
"They must feel that people want to work with hometown folks," said Mr. Gwaltney.