Star Banc Corp. is the latest institution seeking to take advantage of the "30-mile rule" to consolidate several state subsidiaries into one unit.
Its plan, which requires regulatory approval, won't save a lot of money but will attract new customers, said Joseph A. Campanella, an executive vice president.
"This merger will be especially beneficial to customers who work in one state and live in another," said chairman Jerry A. Grundhofer, who is also president and CEO.
Star Banc, which is based in Cincinnati, said last week that it had applied to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to combine its Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana banks into one legal entity, to be known simply as Star Bank. The holding company has $9 billion of assets and 237 branches in the three states - 191 in Ohio, 26 in Kentucky, and 20 in Indiana.
A Star Banc spokesman said the company expected approval within 90 days and implementation by the fourth quarter.
Star Banc is seeking to take advantage of a loophole in federal law. Normally, banks are required to maintain separately chartered entities in individual states. But the so-called "30-mile rule" provides an exception if a bank's headquarters is within 30 miles of a state line.
Cincinnati sits right across the Ohio River from Kentucky and within 30 miles of the Indiana border. Star Banc customers often live in one state and work in another.
"We will attract a significant number of new customers who feel they have to bank where they live," Mr. Campanella said.
Banks that have taken advantage of the 30-mile rule to consolidate state subsidiaries in the past year include First Fidelity Bancorp, Lawrenceville, N.J.; NationsBank Corp., Charlotte; and Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank Corp., which also combined units in Ohio and Kentucky.
By officially combining three state entities, Star Banc will eliminate some legal and regulatory duplication. But savings from Star Banc's consolidation will be minimal, since the corporation consolidated the back- office operations of the three units several years ago, Mr. Campanella said.