Linnet Deily of First Interstate Bank of Texas takes issue with recent claims by community banks that rapid consolidation by out-of-state institutions has diminished big banks' financial and civic participation.

Recently, community bankers and observers in several metropolitan areas have said out-of-state acquisitions were creating opportunities for more civic participation for remaining local bankers, as decision-makers and chief executives switched to headquarters sometimes several states away.

Further, community bankers charged that banks based elsewhere were contributing less to local causes and that some new local managers were not yet as entrenched in the civic scene as their predecessors.

Houston community banker Walter Johnson said the ability to raise funds from banks has diminished after several acquisitions in town.

"The out-of-state banks just don't participate," said Mr. Johnson, president of $700 million-asset Southwest Bank of Texas, who also raises funds for area charities - and who used to head $5 billion-asset Allied Bank before First Interstate bought it.

But Ms. Deily, chairman, president, and chief executive of First Interstate's $6.4 billion-asset Texas operations, begs to differ.

Ms. Deily, a native Texan, said Houston's big banks are doing a good job of contributing both time and money to local charities and civic organizations.

For instance, First Interstate donated $638,117 in corporate and employee gifts to the United Way in 1994, up from $151,710 in 1987, the last year Allied Bank owned the institution, she said.

"I think that's a fairly remarkable increase over that period of time," she said. "We are a significantly larger giver."

Decisions regarding community involvement are made from Houston, not from corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, she said, and the company has budgeted more than $1 million in overall giving for 1995, she said.

First Interstate also encourages management and employee participation in community service and matches many employee contributions to nonprofit groups, said Ms. Deily, who herself is involved with several organizations.

"We believe our other large competitors are doing similar things," Ms. Deily said. "I don't think our story is unique."

Peter C. Marzio, the director of Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, who also sits on First Interstate's Texas board, said he agreed.

"I think the big banks that are expanding are playing the lead role in philanthropies," he said. "All the major banks - whether Texas Commerce Bank (owned by Chemical Banking Corp.) or First Interstate or NationsBank or Bank One - are heavily involved in the Museum of Fine Arts and are the leading contributors."

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