BankAmerica Corp. will use its upcoming merger with NationsBank Corp. to expand equity underwriting and other activities in Europe.
The San Francisco-based bank plans to develop equity-related operations in conjunction with Montgomery Securities, the San Francisco-based investment banking unit of NationsBank, said Gerald Doherty, the London- based head of BankAmerica's European, Middle Eastern, and African operations.
He also said BankAmerica might build on other businesses NationsBank handles in Europe, such as asset securitization.
"We're in a fairly aggressive mode," Mr. Doherty said. "We see opportunities, and we will pursue them."
Mr. Doherty mentioned equities, convertible bonds, and equity-related derivatives, as well as mergers and acquisitions, as the areas BankAmerica will seek to develop with Montgomery Securities. He also predicted it will be easier to build these businesses in Europe using Montgomery than if BankAmerica had tried building them on its own. "This is an extension of what they're already good at," he said.
BankAmerica has large capital markets and payment-related operations in Western Europe and has been rapidly building a business in Eastern Europe. Equities, a key component of the capital market products BankAmerica has been developing, have been missing, however.
In a similar move, BankBoston Corp. executives said this month that they plan to use investment banking house Robertson Stephens to develop international equity operations.
On May 29 BankAmerica agreed to sell Robertson Stephens to BankBoston in advance of its merger with NationsBank.
BankAmerica's decision to expand capital markets operations in Europe comes after a meeting in London this week between Mr. Doherty and Montgomery Securities executives.
Until now, European capital markets have largely revolved around government and corporate bonds.
The amount of equity issued mainly by well-known European corporations has been far smaller.
Executives said the decision to develop equity and other capital market activities in Europe follows a growing perception that both bond and equity issues, as well as mergers and acquisitions, will surge after the euro, the new single European currency, comes into use within the European Union next year.
"With the arrival of the euro, Europe has more attraction than people thought," Mr. Doherty said.
BankAmerica, with branches in most major European cities and 2,500 employees, has a far larger operation in Europe than NationsBank .
NationsBank has about 250 employees in London, and 10 to 15 in Frankfurt. The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank's other European activities, such as foreign exchange and payment services, will be integrated into BankAmerica's.