a purchase made it the only black-owned bank to operate in more than one state.

On Friday the $150 million-asset bank bought two branches, $34 million of deposits, and some loans of Peoples National Bank of Commerce in Miami. Peoples National, the only black-owned bank in Florida, had been shut down earlier in the week by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which cited poor lending and record-keeping practices, an ineffective board, and year-2000 problems.

The branches reopened Monday as Peoples Bank of Commerce, a division under the Boston bank's charter.

Boston Bank of Commerce financed the $36 million purchase from its capital reserves. The deal vaulted it from 21st to 12th on Black Enterprise magazine's list of the largest black-owned banks.

Kevin Cohee, the bank's chairman and chief executive officer, said he hopes the acquisition will prove the first of many.

He has said repeatedly that he wants to build a national presence by buying minority-owned institutions doing business in single urban markets around the country.

"The current wave of consolidation has to date bypassed the African-American sector," Mr. Cohee said. "Our leadership in consolidating African-American-owned banks will serve as a model."

Robert Patrick Cooper, senior counsel for Boston Bank of Commerce, said it hopes to announce other purchases soon, but he declined to discuss specific opportunities.

"The Miami bank is just the first step toward our goal to roll up African-American banks," Mr. Cooper said.

Boston Bank of Commerce has made two unsolicited bids in the past year for Carver Bancorp in New York, the parent of the nation's largest black-owned financial institution.

Carver, which has $420 million of assets, rejected both bids. However, the Boston bank has bought 7% of Carver's stock and continues to push for a deal.

Boston Bank of Commerce is also rumored to be a successful bidder for some of the branches to be divested by Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston Corp. in their $16 billion merger. The Justice Department approved the merger last month on the condition that more than $13 billion of deposits be divested, including 28 branches and $810 million of deposits set aside for community banks. Fleet and BankBoston announced this month that Sovereign Bancorp in Wyomissing, Pa., would buy the lion's share of what is divested.

"We continue to hold our stake in Carver and are looking at several other acquisitions within New England and beyond," said Mr. Cooper

The winning bidders among the community banks have not been announced.

Mr. Cohee said he believes he can turn his new Miami operations around as he did Boston Bank of Commerce.

He and his wife, senior vice president Teri Williams, joined the Boston bank in June 1995, investing $1 million in the then-struggling institution.

They now own a majority stake.

The bank lost $7 million from 1992 to 1996 and more than $2 million in 1996 alone, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The FDIC issued a cease-and-desist order against the bank in 1993 but lifted it in the spring of last year.

The bank reported earning $561,000 in 1997 and $705,000 in 1998.

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