NationsBank Corp. has filed a second $3 billion shelf registration of the year, once again supporting its capital-intensive finance companies.

The filing, made last Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, will allow the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank to issue coporate debt and common and preferred stock.

Approximately $2 billion of the new shelf will support NationsBank's growing finance companies, while the other $1 billion will replace existing debt, said John E. Mack, treasurer of the superregional.

Analysts said these finance companies are not supported by bank deposits. As a result, sizable shelf filings could become increasingly common as banks build such businesses.

"If you look at the ongoing needs of the more traditional finance companies, whether CIT Group, Household, or others, they clearly have been very consistent issuers of debt," said Craig R. Stine, a finance company analyst at Salomon Brothers Inc.

"I would not be surprised at a company's putting up a shelf of that size if the stated use of proceeds is to finance the nonbank finance companies," said Mr. Stine.

Indeed, other banks have joined NationsBank in developing such nontraditional businesses, often with a resultant increase in capital markets activity.

"It's just a part of servicing their broader customer base," said Henry C. "Chip" Dickson, a banking analyst at Smith Barney.

"Some banks are anxious to move into higher-margin businesses that are traditionally outside of the normal banking universe," said Mr. Stine. "There is clearly an interest in expanding those businesses before competition closes out much of the profitability."

Analysts said that Keycorp's recently announced acquisition of AutoFinance Group represents another instance of a bank making a significant foray into a nonbank business.

And Norwest Corp. has developed the Norwest Financial Corp., a nonbank finance company that raises its own debt.

NationsBank has been expanding its finance business ever since it purchased Chrysler's nonautomotive finance arm in 1993 and selected assets of US West Inc. in early 1994.

With $55 million in earnings, the finance company accounted for approximately 6% of the bank's earnings by the middle of the year, said Mr. Dickson.

Mr. Mack plans to get a debt rating for the nontraditional businesses by 1996, which will allow them to issue debt directly rather than requiring a downstreaming of funds by the holding company.

Moshe Orenbuch, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said that there are two hurdles to making acquisitions of nonbank finance companies viable.

"The tricks are doing it at a reasonable price, and not screwing up the company," said Mr. Orenbuch. "A lot of the people from those companies don't work well in a rigid company structure."

Mr. Orenbuch said the jury is still out on how the nonbank businesses will perform at NationsBank, though he lauded the performance of the more mature finance business at Norwest, which has retained its staff.

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Separately, Moody's Investors Service placed under review for possible upgrade the ratings of Riggs National Corp. and its subsidiary.

Approximately $256 million of securities are affected.

Moody's action followed the improvement in the financial condition of the holding company and its principal banking subsidiary.

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