Financial Institutions No. 1 In Adopting New Names

Financial institutions have become the most active name changers by continuing to adopt new monikers as the rest of corporate America slacked off, according to Anspach Grossman Portugal.

The New York-based corporate-identity consultant said 148 financial institutions changed their names in the first half of 1991. They comprised 32% of the 462 corporate name changes in the period and surpassed the second-largest category of businesses changing names -- manufacturing companies -- which accounted for 26%.

Financial companies also held the No. 1 spot in 1990, when their 356 changes barely beat the manufacturing and industrial total of 354. But in previous years, at the height of the corporate merger wave and before thrift failures became a key contributor to the total, financial companies held second place.

Fewer Changing Names

Overall, the number of companies changing names, including financial companies, has fallen substantially from the peak years of 1987 through 1989, when Anspach Grossman Portugal counted an average of 1,700 annual changes. Financial institutions typically made up 25% to 30% of those totals.

In the first half of 1991, total corporate name changes ran 30% behind the pace of 1990, when 1,321 companies changed their monikers. Financial institutions through June were 17% behind their 1990 pace.

Financial institutions' 148 changes in the 1991 half were down from 154 in the second half of 1990, and 202 in the 1990 first half.

Impact of S&L Failures

"The banking industry as a whole is undergoing a considerable reconfiguration because of S&L failures," said Joel Portugal, a partner in the firm that bears his name. Also boosting the number are "expansion opportunities offered the stronger institutions," such as NCNB Corp. and Fleet/Norstar Financial Group, which have changed the names of institutions they absorbed.

About 40 of 250 first-half changes that were attributed to corporate acquisitions involved federally assisted bank and thrift sales. [Graph Omitted]

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