Boatmen's Bancshares plans up to $200 million in preferred stock and an equal amount of debt securities, signaling that the company's torried acquisition pace will continue.

James W. Kienker, chief financial officer of the St. Louis banking company, said proceeds of the equity offering may be used to fund acquisitions. He said the debt offering would be aimed at lowering the bank's cost of funds.

A registration statement covering the two offerings was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

More Consumer Oriented

Boatmen's has used acquisitions to change what was a heavy emphasis on commercial lending and wholesale funding to a more consumer-oriented business funded by low-cost deposits.

"Boatmen's will continue to selectively acquire," said Dennis F. Shea, an analyst with Morgan Stanley & Co. "they have a good record with what they've done."

Boatmen's has completed or announced the acquisition of almost $9 billion in assets, spread among five banking companies and thrifts, in the past 18 months. The company has $17.3 billion in assets at the end of the first quarter.

If the bank plans further expansion, now is the time to tap the capital markets because bank preferred shares and debt are hot items among investors.

Its Timing Is Good

Boatmen's has no preferred stock outstanding and at current rates would be able to raise funds relatively cheaply.

If he bank issues the full amount or preferred stock, its Tier 1 capital ratio will rise to 11%, from an already strong 9.78% in the first quarter.

The premium paid to investors to buy bank debt has fallen significantly in the past year. Last year, to entice investors, many banks issued debt at yields of 100 basis points over Treasuries. Now investment bankers say that spreads of 30 to 50 basis points over Treasuries are possible.

Mr. Kienker would not say what spread he believes he can issue debt at, but he did say he has been quoted spreads of less than 100 basis points over Treasuries.

"The significant thing is, it is cheaper today than it was," said Mr. Kienker.

Certainly, the sale of debt or equity would allow the bank to fund what has been a successful run of acquisitions.

In late 1990, Boatmen's bought the largest thrift in St. Louis, Community Federal Savings & Loan, for $28 million.

The deal added 200,000 household accounts - at the bargain price of $140 a piece - and gave Boatmen's a 30% share of the deposit market in the area.

This year, the banking company completed the acquisition of Superior Federal in Arkansas, a profitable but undercapitalized thrift with the biggest penetration of households in the state, according to Mr. Shea.

Fuel for Trust Business

Boatmen's expanded into Oklahoma as well this year, by buying two banks with a combined $1.2 billion in assets.

The new territory gives the bank's powerful trust business a new market.

Trust services accounted for 20% of last year's $150 million earnings, a very high proportion.

The pending deal to merge with New Mexico's Sunwest Financial Services, which has $3.4 billion in asset, is expected to further the bank's change to a more consumer-oriented institution.

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