The chairman of Charter One Financial, Charles John Koch, says his company is under pressure to buy another bank or thrift within a year.
He said sellers are pressing potential buyers, like Charter One, to buy quickly-while the market is still strong.
"Would we like to not do another deal for the next year?" Mr. Koch asked. "Yes, absolutely."
But with the stock market fluctuating wildly, "you're going to see more deals," not fewer, Mr. Koch said in an interview this week at the annual convention of America's Community Bankers, the thrift trade group.
Cleveland-based Charter One has been an active acquirer. It completed the purchase of $4 billion-asset RCSB Financial Inc. for $647.5 million in October. In September it bought Haverfield Corp., with $346.9 million of assets, for $52.7 million. Mr. Koch said he'd like some breathing room- maybe a year-to absorb the RCSB purchase, but expects he won't get it.
With a substantial franchise in Ohio and southeastern Michigan, Charter One itself could become a target for a large bank. But Mr. Koch said he hasn't had any serious inquiries and doesn't expect to sell.
If the price were right, however, the decision to sell would be a hardheaded business calculation, not an "emotional" one, he said.
On a separate matter, Mr. Koch discussed his company's opposition to a pilot at the Chicago Federal Home Loan Bank to invest in $750 million of fixed-rate mortgages made by its members. Charter One is among a group of thrifts suing the Chicago bank to stop the project.
Mr. Koch said that if the Federal Home Loan banks became large mortgage investors-on the order of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-they would "force more people out of mortgage lending" by making fixed-rate loans cheaper.
The adjustable-rate loans usually held by thrifts would lose market share as a result, he said.