Manhattan Federal Savings made the giant leap from mutual thrift to national bank in one day, but 20 months later chief executive Patrick L. Alexander says his institution still has a long way to go.

The former Manhattan Federal Savings raised $4.6 million in a public offering when it converted from a mutual to a stock savings institution on Jan. 5, 1993.

On the same day, it became a nationally chartered bank and a subsidiary of its new holding company, MNB Bancshares -- a rare simultaneous conversion.

Now, "from a transformation standpoint, we're two to three years away from a achieving the balance sheet we want," said the president and chief executive of the $80 million-asset Kansas bank.

Michael Zuk, an analyst with Fahnestock & Co./B.C. Christopher in Kansas City, Mo., applauds Mr. Alexander's transition efforts. "Pat's a very levelheaded manager," he said. "He's got a clear focus on where he wants to lead the bank."

Manhattan National's loan. portfolio is gradually becoming more diversified, as are its deposits.

"The loans are going easier than the deposit mix," said Mr. Alexander, previously a community banker from 1972 until he joined the thrift in 1990. Because the bank used to be a thrift, "In our development of commercial checking account business, we're kind of like a de novo."

Still, at June 30, checking and NOW accounts are up 130% over yearend 1992, Mr. Alexander said.

Commercial loans have increased to 27% of Manhattan National's total loan portfolio at June 30, up from 14% at yearend 1992, Mr. Alexander said.

Consumer loans have increased to 7.4% of the portfolio, up from 4% for the same time periods. One-family to four-family residential loans dropped to 57% from 73%..

Robin Fussell, a senior consultant with W.C. Ferguson & Co. in Irving, Tex., said that more dramatic changes in a thrift-tobank switch take time.

"The major difference I would expect would be in the loan portfolio," Mr. Fussell said. "That's normally a very gradual metamorphosis ."

Since the conversion, some people have started doing business with Manhattan National who would not have done so when it was a thrift, Mr. Alexander said.

Others turned to the community bank after acquisitions in Manhattan by Commerce Bancshares and United Missouri Bancshares.

MNB stock, owned by more than 400 community shareholders, is "a handsome performer," Mr. Zuk said.

However, .it is thinly traded because its numerous shareholders "bought the stock and they put it away," he said.

Mr. Alexander also is exploring expansion opportunities to deploy some of the bank's excess capital.

In 1993, just six thrifts including Manhattan Federal switched to bank charters, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

According to SNL Securities, Manhattan National is the only institution to make a simultaneous conversion from mutual thrift to stockholder-owned commercial bank.

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