Bank of New York Co. was the most actively traded bank stock Thursday after it raised $302 million through an offering of eight million common shares the day before.

The stock was ahead 37.5 cents to $38.125, with 3.5 million shares changing hands. The offering was priced late Wednesday at $37.75 a share, with Goldman, Sachs & Co. serving as lead underwriter.

About $150 million of the proceeds will finance the purchase of $2.2 billion in assets of Barclays Bank of New York, including 63 branch offices, said Thomas Hanley, an analyst at First Boston Corp. That acquisition was announced last month.

Bank of New York is "building a capital war chest to explore other more significant regional banking acquisitions," Mr. Hanley said.

Lawrence W. Cohn of Paine Webber Inc. estimated the bank may be raising as much as $200 million in excess capital that could be "available for other acquisitions."

It is unlikely that the cash will be used directly to finance an acquisition. The Federal Reserve Board, concerned by the amount of goodwill generated in cash deals, encourages exchanges of stock.

However, issuance of common stock builds Tier 1 capital and may smooth regulatory clearance of future mergers.

Possible Targets

First Boston identified four possible targets for Bank of New York: Shawmut National Corp., Hartford, Conn.; UJB Financial Corp., Princeton, N.J.; First Fidelity Bancorp., Lawrenceville, N.J.; and Mellon Bank Corp., Pittsburgh.

Those banks fit the criteria of J. Carter Bacot, Bank of New York's chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Hanley said.

The banks had no comment on Mr. Hanley's report.

Mr. Bacot said recently he would like to make another acquisition but was in no hurry. He would aim to buy a bank with a solid consumer franchise and at least $10 billion in assets.

"With its 1989 acquisition of Irving Bank Corp. now fully integrated, Bank of New York has proved its ability to consolidate a large institution," Mr. Hanley said.

He noted that 38% of the Irving expense base was cut, achieving in just two years the $202 million cost reduction that had been targeted within five years.

At 55% on march 31, Bank of New York's efficiency ratio is among the lowest of all major banks, he added. The ratio is the bank's operating expenses divided by revenues after taxes.

After a difficult period characterized by asset-quality problems, earnings are strong. The 97 cents per share earned in the first quarter was better than expected, and compared with a loss of $1.02 per share a year earlier.

Fee Income, Wide Margin

"Loans continued to shrink, but were more than offset by booming fee income from fiduciary services and a wider net interest margin," said Mark Alpert and Mark Lynch, analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co.

Fee based business account for nearly half of the bank's revenues. It is the nation's largest provider of securities processing and ranks sixth among banks in personal trust departments.

First Boston and Bear Stearns are neutral on the stock. Mr. Cohn at Paine Webber has a buy rating on the shares and said the bank was one of his favorite stocks.

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