Commercial Bank of New York has agreed to acquire First Bank of the Americas for $48 million in cash from Banbogota Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Banco de Bogota, Colombia.

The purchase price is approximately 1.5 times First Bank's book value on June 30. The price-to-earnings ratio is not meaningful, because First Bank recently posted losses.

Commercial Bank is not acquiring First Bank's international loan portfolio, automobile loan portfolio, or any substandard assets.

Management at Commercial said the transaction would be slightly dilutive to reported earnings per share next year and substantially accretive in 1999. Their cost-saving goal is to cut 30% of First Bank's pretax overhead during the next two years.

First Bank had assets of $400 million on June 30. It has eight New York offices-five in Manhattan, two on Long Island, and one in Queens. Adding these would more than double Commercial's branch network to 14 and would give it a presence outside Manhattan.

Gabriel R. Safdie, Commercial's chairman, said that "some of the branches to be acquired originally belonged to Bankers Trust and represent a stable source of core deposit relationships."

Commercial Bank concentrates on small and midsize businesses, private banking services, and retail banking. It would have assets of approximately $1.2 billion when the deal closes.

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