John B. McCoy is trying to raise Bank One Corp.'s low-risk profile.
The Bank One chief executive officer is planning to urge investment analysts this week to compare his company's risks against those of two other 1998 megamergers with far greater international exposure, Citigroup and BankAmerica Corp.
They should conclude that "our business is different than other banks', " Mr. McCoy said in an interview in his new Chicago office last week. "We're taking care of our U.S. customers."
In a conference call with analysts planned for Thursday, when Bank One has scheduled its third-quarter earnings announcement, Mr. McCoy said, he will call attention to the eminently manageable credit risks of the $240 billion-asset company that resulted from the combination of Banc One Corp. and First Chicago NBD Corp.
The new Bank One is on target to meet cost reduction and revenue goals that should increase annual income by $1.2 billion within three years, Mr. McCoy added. That would comprise expense savings of $930 million-half of that by yearend 1999-and additional revenue of $275 million annually by 2001.
Credit cards, retail banking, and commercial lending should all reap revenue gains almost immediately, Mr. McCoy said.
Though the message is positive, he may face a tough Wall Street audience that has been looking for more specifics on those bottom-line projections.
"They need to show a little bit more of a road map," said Joseph Duwan, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
"There is still some level of skepticism regarding this management team's ability to implement the merger," he said, "but they clearly don't have the international exposure many banks their size have."
On that last issue, he said, Mr. McCoy makes "a valid point in terms of their loan mix."
Bank One reported $6 billion of cross-border exposure as of June 30-one- tenth that of Citigroup and concentrated in Japan, France, and Germany.
For the short term, Mr. McCoy said he is comfortable with analysts' estimates for earnings this year and next. According to First Call Corp., the consensus puts Bank One for 1998 at $3.37 a share, rising to $4.06 next year.
There will be no major surprises, Mr. McCoy said.
On the longer-term expense and revenue projections, he said, "The numbers have been moved around, but the overall numbers are right.
"I've been quoted as saying mergers of equals don't work," Mr. McCoy said. But this combination is different, primarily because choices were made early about who would manage what.
"One of the things you must have is a CEO to take charge. You have to have somebody at the end of the day who can make a decision."
He said most of those merger-related decisions should be made within the next six months. Yet Bank One has been criticized on its cost-cutting record.
Michael Mayo, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston, reduced his earnings estimates and downgraded Bank One's stock because of higher-than- anticipated second-quarter expenses. He has been skeptical about the merger.
"We'd like to hear basically three things," said Mr. Mayo. "No. 1, what the company is going to do to control expenses. No. 2, new attempts they're going to make to disclose additional information, which has been lacking. No. 3, exactly how the management structure is coming together."
Analysts predict the company will reduce its staff by 5% to 10%, or by as many as 9,000 employees. Mr. McCoy has been reluctant to give any firm estimate on job reductions.
He would say only that there would be a net gain in jobs within three years, bringing total employment to more than 100,000.
Mr. McCoy also said Bank One will be preoccupied with the merger integration through next year.
As for future acquisitions, "I'm always a looker," he said, "but I don't think I'm a buyer."