The New York State Banking Board, which on Jan. 11 approved the merger of Chemical Banking Corp. and Chase Manhattan Corp., has decided to do it again Thursday.
Inner City Press/Community on the Move, a Bronx-based activist group, had challenged the merger approval in court, charging that the banking board violated state open meetings laws at its Jan. 11 meeting.
In a letter sent Monday to the banks and to Inner City Press, Edmund P. Rogers 3d, the New York State Banking Department's deputy superintendent and counsel, said the actions taken at the Jan. 11 meeting were "proper and valid." Nonetheless, Mr. Rogers wrote, the board would at its Feb. 1 meeting again address all the items on its Jan. 11 agenda.
New York law seldom allows state boards to meet behind closed doors, and before they do go into executive session they must explain in public exactly why. Matthew Lee, executive director of Inner City Press, said that when he and other observers arrived at the Jan. 11 meeting, board members were already meeting in an executive session where they apparently discussed the Chase-Chemical merger.
A state court hearing on the Inner City Press suit is scheduled for Feb. 5, and Mr. Lee said his group will probably continue to pursue its litigation, focusing now on more "substantive" issues such as antitrust concerns.
Inner City Press has also sued in federal court to overturn the Federal Reserve Board's Jan. 5 approval of the Chase-Chemical merger. No hearing date has been set in that case.