Aiming to substantially increase its base of operations in the United States, Bank of Montreal, has begun expanding its U.S. activities and rationalizing operations with Harris Bankcorp, its main U.S. unit.
As part of the plan, Alan G. McNally, former vice chairman at Bank of Montreal, was recently named chief executive officer at Harris.
"The plan calls for Harris to triple its distribution network and market share and triple its earnings," Mr. McNally said.
The bank also said Harris' services will be expanded in Chicago and throughout Illinois and neighboring states and indicated it plans to invest between $600 million and $700 million to increase the number of its branches there.
Mr. McNally said Harris' expansion would be accomplished by the acquisition of banks and savings and loans, the establishment of full-service or special-purpose branches, and electronic banking facilities.
Bank of Montreal and Harris currently have $34 billion of combined assets and employ 6,000 people in the United States.
In a first step toward implementing the plan, the bank announced last month that it was combining management of its treasury operations with that of Harris Bankcorp.
"The team approach we are announcing today for our treasury operations will be used through Harris and Bank of Montreal as the North American strategy unfolds," said Donald Hunt, president and chief operating officer at Harris.
Said Yvan Bourdeau, treasurer at Bank of Montreal: "By having both Harris and Bank of Montreal staff report to the same people, we'll be better able to take advantage of the strengths in both groups."
The two groups, however, will continue to operate autonomously, said Mr. Bourdeau.
As part of the changes in the bank's foreign exchange group, Jamie Thorsen and Bob Goetter, both senior vice presidents with Harris, have taken on the added title of managing director at Bank of Montreal.
Ms. Thorsen is responsible for Harris and Bank of Montreal foreign exchange sales throughout North America.
Mr. Goetter is responsible for foreign exchange trading in the United States by both entities.
Ms. Thorsen joined Harris in 1977, and was most recently in charge of Harris' foreign currency, trading operations and provided foreign exchange counseling services to multinational corporate customers and other companies transacting business overseas.
Mr. Goetter joined Harris in 1970 as a money transfer teller and worked his way up to head the bank's foreign exchange and fixed-income trading.
Harris is a major provider of foreign exchange services in the United States. The U.S. unit hopes to be able to take advantage of Bank of Montreal's technology and global trading capabilities.
Bank of Montreal, in turn, will benefit from Harris' night trading desk and in-house expertise.
The bank said Ms. Thorsen will seek to expand the bank's treasury operations in both the Canadian and U.S. markets.
"We intend to build on this expertise to expand our business [in New York and Chicago]," Ms. Thorsen said.
She added that she was also looking forward "to working with the specialized treasury centers located in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Halifax."
"Harris has been offering treasury services since 1882 and Bank of Montreal since 1818," Mr. Goetter said.
"Our initiative and expansion plans are an indication of our continued commitment to provide premier service to our customers."
As part of the program, Bank of Montreal and Harris traders in the United States will move to a new joint trading floor in Chicago.
Mr. Hunt said the changes would help better serve customers of both banks.
"While foreign exchange is the focus today, we'll soon be talking about expansion plans for other treasury operations and for Harris in general," Mr. Hunt said.
In a separate move, the bank said it has filed an application with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to open a 400-square-foot, in-store branch with teller services that will take loan applications and provide other general banking services in a Chicago suburb.
The two moves are part of a broader, 10-year strategy Bank of Montreal outlined in June for developing business in the United States and creating a North American financial services powerhouse.