In another move aimed at building a nationwide consumer finance franchise, Bank of Boston Corp. has agreed to acquire the loan portfolio and 46 branches of Century Acceptance Corp., a Kansas City, Mo.-based consumer finance company.
Analysts said Bank of Boston is paying around $130 million, including an $18 million premium, to acquire $110 million in loans and 46 branches spread across 14 states, primarily in the Southeast and Midwest.
Karen Schwartzman, a Bank of Boston spokeswoman, declined to confirm the figure or to go beyond a statement that the bank would pay a "modest premium" over the book value of the portfolio and branches.
Analysts added that the branches themselves have relatively little value; most of which are leased. They also said Bank of Boston is planning to shut down around 25 of the branches, overlap with its own consumer finance network.
The acquisition is the latest in a series of similar purchases ofconsumer finance companies. The bank launched its shopping spree in 1993 by acquiring Connecticut's Society for Savings and its consumer finance unit, Fidelity Acceptance Corp.
Fidelity gave Bank of Boston 139 offices in 26 states.
In a second move last February, the bank paid $21.5 million to acquire Ganis Credit Corp., a Newport, Calif.-based consumer finance company specializing in collateralized loans for recreational vehicles and boats.
Analysts said they expect Bank of Boston, which has $43.5 billion of total assets, to make more acquisitions in consumer finance.
"They want to build on that strength," said Mary Quint, a bank analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
"What they're doing is building a nationwide asset-generation capacity," said Lawrence Cohn, a banking analyst with PaineWebber Inc.
Bank of Boston has traditionally catered to the corporate rather than the consumer market, but it is now making a concerted effort to build its retail banking franchise. The bank has more than doubled its domestic consumer loan portfolio over two years, to $3.8 billion from $1.6 billion.
Edward A. O'Neal, the bank's vice chairman, said the acquisition of Century Acceptance "will help us continue to expand our consumer lending throughout the country."
Bank of Boston said the acquisition puts Fidelity Acceptance 12 months ahead of schedule in its own planned expansion.
The consumer lending unit opened 21 offices in 1994, and 10 more so far this year.
Consumer finance companies tend to lend at interest rates as high as 20% or more. Analysts said Bank of Boston is likely to profit almost immediately from its acquisition by using its own low funding costs to finance lending through Century Acceptance.
"They're going to make a lot of money on this acquisition," Mr. Cohn predicted. "As a stand-alone company, Century paid through the nose for its financing."
Mr. Cohn estimated that Bank of Boston could earn as much as $5 million a year after taxes from the deal, by using low-cost funding, consolidating branches, and using its own back office to reduce processing costs.
He also predicted that Bank of Boston will retain, rather than sell off, the loans it originates.
Within the next 12 months, Mr. Cohn said, Bank of Boston could easily double the size of the portfolio it is purchasing from Century.