Boosting its presence in West Texas, St. Louis-based Boatmen's Bancshares on Friday agreed to buy First Amarillo Bancorp. in a stock swap valued at roughly $175 million.

The price is 2.2 times First Amarillo's book value.

$800 Million in Assets

First Amarillo holds roughly 800 million of assets and is solidly profitable. It earned $6.4 million before extraordinary items during the first half of 1993, for a return of roughly 1.7% on average assets.

Boatmen's first entered Texas with its 1992 purchase of Sunwest Financial Corp., Albuquerque, N.M., which has a unit in El Paso, Tex.

An Unsuccessful Bid

Joseph Horn, chief financial officer of First Amarillo, said the company will be operated as a separate subsidiary of Boatmen's. Don Powell, chairman and chief executive, will remain in charge of the company after it is acquired, Boatmen's said.

An avid acquirer for two years, Boatmen's competed vigorously but unsuccessfully for parts of Houston's failed First City Bancorporation of Texas, most of which was sold to Chemical Banking Corp.

Andrew B. Craig 3d, chairman and chief executive of Boatmen's, said in a prepared statement that the First Amarillo deal would have a neutral effect on this year's earnings and would enhance profitability in 1994.

Key Geographical Position

Mr. Craig said First Amarillo occupies a "key location" along the highway linking Oklahoma City and Albuquerque, two cities where Boatmen's already has a major banking presence.

Boatmen's at midyear held $24.6 billion of assets and operated about 400 offices spread across Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, New Mexico, and Texas.

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