Corus Bankshares, a $2.3 billion-asset company in Chicago, plans to quadruple its trust and investment management business through two pending acquisitions.

Its Corus Bank unit this week announced plans to buy Lawton/Russell Inc. and Moss Lawton Co., a pair of Chicago investment advisory firms owned by their president, Gregory M. Lawton.

Terms were not disclosed, but David H. Johnson 3d, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Corus Bank, said a "seven-figure investment" would be involved.

The deal is expected to close March 31. The Lawton companies would be combined into a new unit, Corus Asset Management, and Mr. Lawton would become its chief investment officer and managing director, Mr. Johnson said.

Corus Bank has roughly $100 million of assets under management in trust and investment accounts, Mr. Johnson said. The acquisition would add $300 million.

The Lawton companies are active in the defined-contribution-plan business and in helping organizations set up plans, Mr. Johnson said. They also use retirement services as a lead to gather assets from high-net-worth executives, he said.

Though Mr. Lawton treated the companies as separate entities, Mr. Johnson said any distinctions between them are "artificial." Lawton/Russell serves clients using funds managed by Frank Russell Co. of Tacoma, Wash., while Moss Lawton serves other investors, Mr. Johnson said.

Frank Russell's investment management arm is known for managing funds that track the Russell 2000 small-cap index. Corus Bank has now signed an investment advisory agreement with Frank Russell and will continue to offer its funds, Mr. Johnson said.

More small banks will probably try to buy investment management capabilities so they can compete with larger ones, said John O'Shea, a financial analyst with Investment Counseling Inc., a West Conshohocken, Pa., advisory firm.

"We do know of some smaller banks who are actively looking," Mr. O'Shea said. He declined to identify them.

Consolidation between banks and investment management firms is up across the board, Mr. O'Shea said. Banks acquired 23 investment managers last year, up from seven or eight on average in the previous three years, he said. "There's a real upsurge."

Corus Bank has eight employees working in trust and investment management. Moss Lawton and Lawton/Russell would add eight, all of whom would move to Corus Asset Management in three to six months, Mr. Johnson said. No jobs would be eliminated, he said.

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