Converts Data for Acquired Barclays Units in 2 Days

Fighting bad weather, Bank of New York Co. successfully completed the conversion of all the branches it acquired from Barclays Bank PLC to its own computer systems last week.

The conversion took place during a storm that battered the New York metropolitan area on the weekend after the merger became official.

The storm's extensive flooding caused many banks to reduce or move operations, but the Bank of New York conversion was completed in a little over 48 hours.

The acquisition of the 62 Barclays branches, effective Dec. 11, brought Bank of New York's total to 291. Bank officials said they expected more than $38 million of annual savings.

Some Staff Cuts Made

Bank of New York made job offers to about 800 Barclays employees and ended up keeping about 720. Neither Barclays nor Bank of New York would disclose how many people had been employed in the branches before the merger.

Bank of New York converted 250,000 accounts for 132,000 Barclays customers. On Monday, Dec. 14, all the Barclays branches opened as Bank of New York offices.

Bank of New York officials said their experience in quickly merging the Irving Trust Co. and Bank of New York systems enabled them to convert the Barclays operation in two days.

Some Trucks Stranded

The advantage to fast conversion, said Richard D. Field, senior executive vice president, branch banking: "We immediately made available all products to our customers, without forcing them to wait a single business day. And we could immediately maximize the cost efficiencies from eliminating one technology infrastructure."

There were minor glitches: some trucks shipping new automated teller machines and other equipment to the branches were caught in the storm's flooding and had to be towed. For a short period on Saturday morning, teller machines were swallowing bank cards, affecting about 15 customers.

The card snafus were "too bad, because it was a Christmas shopping weekend," said Richard Pace, executive vice president in charge of technology at Bank of New York.

The bank kept a handful of Barclays products, such as an annuities program and a special account for senior citizens.

Data were transmitted from Barclays' data center in Raleigh, N.C., to Bank of New York's in lower Manhattan.

Wide Variety of Data

All back-office data - retail customer information files, customer statements, signature files, and account files for safe deposit, demand deposits, overdraft lines of credit, time deposits, and installment loans - were merged into the Bank of New York's systems.

Barclays' branch signs were replaced - in winds up to 60 miles an hour - and all forms and stationery were replaced with those bearing the Bank of New York logo. About 450 people took part in the conversion.

The operation was controlled from a war room in Harrison, N.Y., where Bank of New York houses its branch automation systems.

About two-thirds of the new branches are in market areas where Bank of New York did not already have a presence.

Bank officials said they do not plan to close any of the branches for the time being. "The cost savings don't depend on further consolidation at all," Mr. Field said.

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