CHICAGO - Bankers in the Midwest expect bank acquisitions in their region to remain rampant, according to a survey by Towers Perrin, the consulting firm.

Four of five senior-level bankers responding to the survey said they expect their institutions to make acquisition, or be acquired, this year. Two of three respondents were involved in a merger or acquisition last year.

The survey, which has not yet been published, went to 230 bankers, of whom 76 responded. All represented institutions with at least $1 billion in assets.

New Face for the Midwest

The findings "clearly tell us that consolidation has had its most significant impact this past year in the Midwest and the trend is here to stay," said Gary Scott, head of bank consulting at the Chicago office for New York-based Towers Perrin. "The face of Midwest banking has been dramatically changed."

Ironically, these results come during an apparent lull for bank acquisitions. While deals in the Midwest have accounted for 22% of the $363.3 billion in U.S. bank assets acquired since the start of 1991, the region has contributed only 6% of the $31 billion in deals announced during the current quarter, according to SNL Securities of Charlottesville, Va.

In each of the past six quarters, acquisitions were announced for an average $60.4 billion in bank assets, of which an average $13 billion were in the Midwest. The region did not see a megamerger on the scale of BankAmerica Corp. and Security Pacific Corp., or Chemical Banking Corp. and Manufacturers Hanover Corp., which inflated the national totals last year.

Eager for Takeover Game

According to SNL Securities, 22 midwestern transactions with assets of $12 billion were announced during the 1992 first quarter. While that is more than what was done during the first half of 1991, the figure was well below the last two quarters of 1991, when assets of $23.9 billion and $28.6 billion were involved.

But according to Mr. Scott, Midwest bankers are taking time to digest what they have already taken on. Overall, he said, respondents still seem eager to get back in the takeover game.

Thrust for Centralization

According to the survey:

* Of the 76 respondents, 67% said they acquired or merged with another institution in 1991.

* More than 80% say they expect to be involved as a buyer or seller this year.

* Post-merger layoffs are claiming 10% to 19% of the combined entities' work forces.

* The key factor driving Midwest mergers in centralization - of credit controls, lines of business, and back-office operations. But many merger participants are encountering unexpected delays in melding organizations and cultures, Towers Perrin said. Thirty percent of bankers said it has taken more than a year to complete consolidation tasks.

* Branch conversions are picking up steam. More than 50% said they converted some existing banks and facilities into branches, which marks a departure from the region's unit banking history.

In-Market Preference

In the drive for centralization and cost reductions, in-market deals are expected to predominate, said Kenneth Puglisi, a senior vice president at Chicago Corp.

"We don't need as many banks as we have," said Mr. Puglisi.

But some potential acquirers may find prices too steep. "The question will be what those people that say they are going to acquire will be willing to pay and how many candidates will they find who match up to their price, location, and other requirements," said Mr. Scott at Towers Perrin.

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