CHICAGO - Boulevard Bancorp, a $1.5 billion-asset bank company based here, put itself up for sale Monday.

The company, which has been dragged down by commercial realty loans, said it had hired Goldman, Sachs & Co. to help it find a buyer.

"We expect to be working with Goldman Sachs throughout the remainder of the summer in evaluating various alternatives," chairman Charles E. Schroeder said in a news release.

Possible Suitors

Boulevard's shares were up $1.50, or 7%, in afternoon trading Monday, to $23.25, a 52-week high. That lifted its market value to $166 million. Its book value was $96 million on June 30.

Analysts cited a number of possible suitors for Boulevard, the 11th-largest bank company in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Four out-of-state regionals already in the Chicago market have previously expressed interest in expanding their market shares: Banc One Corp., Columbus; NBD Bancorp and Comerica Inc., both of Detroit; and Old Kent Financial Corp., Kalamazoo, Mich.

Other suitors might include two local banks, First Chicago Corp. and Harris Bankcorp.

And several players are reportedly interested in entering the market, including Cleveland-based Society Corp. as well as First Bank System Inc. and Norwest Corp., both of Minneapolis.

"Any number of banks are looking to expand in this market, but I don't know if Boulevard would be their first choice," said Kenneth Puglisi, bank analyst at The Chicago Corp.

Nonperforming Assets Hurt

Boulevard has been hampered with nonperforming assets that totaled 5.3% of gross loans at midyear.

That compares with 4.22% for all Chicago banks.

The problem assets have kept profitability low, with return on average assets of 0.47% in the first half of this year. The average ROA for all Chicago banks was 1.28%.

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