Bank One Corp. said Friday that it had broken off a deal for the futures business of Tullett & Tokyo Ltd., an international brokerage house based in London.
First Chicago Futures, Bank One's global trade processing business, said in June that it intended to buy the operation for an undisclosed price.
Bank One would not say why the negotiations had ended, and officials from Tullett & Tokyo could not be reached.
But analysts said the failed acquisition is just more evidence that Chicago-based Bank One is beating a retreat from the international arena and any effort to serve big corporate clients.
"This is just an indication to me that they're going to accelerate" their departure from those business lines, said Nancy A. Bush, a banking analyst at Ryan, Beck & Co. in Livingston, N.J. "Clearly they're going to focus on retail."
On Wednesday, in a surprise move, Bank One said vice chairman David J. Vitale, who heads the commercial and international businesses, would retire Nov. 1.
That came after an announcement in February that the company would cut 200 jobs in London, including 75 in the derivatives and foreign exchange trading operations.
At the time, Bank One said it was casting off businesses that did not provide critical services for U.S.-based corporate clients or for foreign firms with significant U.S. operations.
Ms. Bush said Mr. Vitale's retirement and the failed Tullett acquisition could be linked. The aborted deal may have prompted Mr. Vitale to announce his departure, or perhaps Bank One concluded it was safe to nix the deal after Mr. Vitale said he was stepping down, she said.
The planned purchase would have enhanced Bank One's futures trading expertise-a skill more and more corporate customers are demanding, analysts said.
But it seems Bank One is shifting away from big commercial clients-where merger partner First Chicago NBD Corp. was strong-and toward the middle market. Bank One was formed last fall from a combination of the old Banc One Corp. of Columbus, Ohio, and First Chicago NBD.
Analysts said the new Bank One is expanding only those international and corporate service lines that manage the cash and assets of midsize business accounts.
In February, the $256 billion-asset company said it would expand its trading services in Hong Kong and strengthen its asset-backed financing team in London.
"They're beefing up some export financing and some of those other services that middle-market customers want," said Joseph C. Duwan, a bank analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
Mr. Duwan said he supports Bank One's plan to focus on services that are critical to its key customer base. "The middle market on down has always been a strength," he said.