A Dallas-based savings bank has applied to open its first branch outside of Texas - more than 900 miles away in the Chicago area.

The $1.2 billion-asset Beal Bank, an investment-account-oriented state savings bank operating in Dallas and Houston, said it wanted to expand its niche by going into another large market.

The bank favors certificates of deposit and money market funds over checking accounts, said David Farmer, Beal's president and chief executive officer.

"Our products historically have applied to older individuals," he said. "Because of that, we feel we can only be successful with our product mix in a large metropolitan area."

Beal has paid some of the highest deposit rates in the country in recent years.

In addition, Mr. Farmer said regulatory considerations also made Illinois an attractive market, though he declined to enumerate them.

Beal Bank has applied to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to establish a branch on the affluent North Shore in Winnetka, Ill. It hopes to open the location by the end of the first quarter in a leased office.

Responding to the skepticism that sometimes accompanies an institution's move into an unfamiliar and faraway geographical region, Mr. Farmer said that Beal will hire Chicago-area employees and is prepared to tailor its products to the new market, as necessary.

"In today's electronic age, it's not nearly as difficult to manage a facility out of state as it was in the past," he said. "It's not really that unusual. If you look at the Bank of Americas of the world, we're just doing it on a smaller scale."

Last April, Beal Bank opened its Houston branch, which now has $125 million in deposits, Mr. Farmer said.

The Chicago branch's success will help to determine future expansion, he said.

The company's lending strategy focuses on commercial and multifamily loans, and many are acquired in the secondary market, he said.

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