NationsBank Corp. permission to acquire two Florida institutions. The $184 billion company will take over CSF Holdings Inc., which owns the $3.6 billion-asset Citizens Federal Bank of Miami. It also will acquire the $952 million-asset Intercontinental Bank of Miami. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters had protested the applications under the Community Reinvestment Act, charging that NationsBank rejected a disproportionate number of minority loan applicants. The Fed, in its Oct. 17 order, agreed that the bank does reject more minority borrowers. But it said the bank solicits more minority applicants. Also it said examiners have found no evidence of discrimination during their most recent review, which resulted in an "outstanding" rating for the lead bank. "This is a confirmation of our record and the rating process," said Catherine Bessant, a senior vice president at NationsBank. "Importantly, the Fed recognizes that performance goes beyond denial rates, which was the bulk of the Teamsters' claim." The Fed's decision bodes well for NationsBank's pending application to acquire Bank South Corp., which is facing a similar protest from the union. Ms. Bessant said she hopes the Fed's decision will convince community activists to rely less on rejection rates when evaluating a bank's performance. "Every time someone comments on denial rates, it helps advance the knowledge out there that says denial rates don't tell the whole story," she said.
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