Two small, trade-oriented New York banks - one owned by an Israeli bank, the other by an international banking family - are about to merge.
Commercial Bank of New York, owned by the Safdie family, is to buy United Mizrahi Bank and Trust Co., a subsidiary of Israel's United Mizrahi Bank Ltd.
No purchase price or other details of the deal were released.
Besides the $1.1 billion-asset Commercial Bank, the Safdie family controls Banco Cidade, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Geneva-based Multi Commercial Bank. Commercial has six offices in Manhattan, and representative offices in Latin America.
Moshe Rosen, president of United Mizrahi Bank and Trust and an international banking veteran of both Bank Leumi and American Express, said his bank's operations and Commercial's are nearly identical. They both have "top-notch" foreign letters of credit operations, private banking, wholesale deposit gathering, and middle-market commercial lending in New York, he said, adding: "We go after the same target markets."
Mr. Rosen declined to discuss why United Mizrahi is being sold.
Commercial Bank president Jacob Berman could not be reached for comment.
Based on 1995 numbers from Sheshunoff Information Services, the combined bank would have about $986 million in deposits, including $286 million from foreign offices.
About $123 million of the combined banks' $466 million in loans are to borrowers outside the United States.
While United Mizrahi's net income from international operations increased significantly last year, Commercial Bank's sank from $2 million in 1994 to just $315,000 in 1995. The reason for the decline, according to the bank's call report, was a doubling in interest expense in the division to $16 million, cutting net interest income to just $825,000.
Commercial Bank has more retail operations than its potential partner, with five branches to United Mizrahi's one.
The larger bank has been on a steep growth path in recent years, increasing its assets from $714 million in 1992 to $1.1 billion now.
It was founded in 1988 by Gabriel R. Safdie, and raised $15.6 million in a 1993 public offering of stock.
Mr. Rosen said the merger is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.