Five former executives of First American Corp., which Amsouth Bancorp bought in October, are starting what would be Nashville's first new bank in six years.

And their plans are aggressive: They hope to raise $20 million and open five branches by 2001.

Organizers of the bank, which has yet to be named, include Robert A. McCabe Jr., the former vice chairman of First American; Dale W. Polley, the former president of First American National Bank; and Robert E. McNeilly Jr., who was president of First American Trust Co. They are reuniting after selling First American, which had its headquarters in Nashville, to Birmingham, Ala.-based Amsouth for $5 billion.

M. Terry Turner, the venture's president and chief executive, said the bank would target businesses with revenues under $10 million and wealthy individuals. Mr. Turner, who headed First American's retail banking group and investment services unit, said the organizers intend to file for a public offering in a matter of weeks and open by fall.

"We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity here," Mr. Turner said. "We believe there is enough market demand to support an aggressive plan."

The organizers say elements favoring their venture include the scarcity of small-bank competitors in Nashville - only two remain - and a service backslide after a decade of consolidation. They also say more consumers are searching for the type of basic savings advice that will be a specialty of their bank.

"The odds of them succeeding are quite good," said Chris Hargrove, president of Professional Bank Services Inc. in Louisville, Ky. "There are many unhappy people in Nashville."

However, with bank stocks out of favor on Wall Street, Mr. Hargrove suggested that it could take the organizers some time to raise the funds to open the bank or make it profitable, given their plans to open so many branches so quickly.

Rick Hart, president of Capital Bank and Trust Co., a $142 million-asset bank in Nashville, said the proposed bank has a "terrific" group of directors and solid upper management. But he observed: "They've never run a community bank before. It will be interesting to see if they can change their niche and focus."

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