Chase Ex-Chief Expects Mergers Of Money-Centers

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. -- Former Chase Manhattan Corp. chairman Willard Butcher said mergers of major money-center banks are inevitable because of "overcapacity in the industry."

"I'm making no predictions of when or how, but in my view when you have classic overcapacity in the industry you have to get rid of it," Mr. Butcher said in an interview last week.

No Failures

He also said he does not foresee any money-center banks, such as Chase, Citicorp, Manufacturers Hanover Corp. or Chemical Banking Corp., failing.

"Almost all [money-center] banks who have lent real money have a degree of difficulty, but none of them, I think, are under water," added Mr. Butcher, who retired as chairman and chief executive officer Oct. 31. He is currently chairman of the executive committee of Chase's board.

In Colorado for a private conference of business and political leaders from 15 countries, Mr. Butcher said weakness in the real estate sector remains troubling and will not recover until office occupancy rates improve.

"We can always talk ourselves into a crisis," he said. "That's particularly true for banking because banking depends so much on confidence."

Mr. Butcher said banks' reserves are adequate to cover Third World debt problems.

PHOTO : Willard Butcher Sees overcapacity

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