A new Florida holding company has changed the name of its planned start-up bank, bowing to pressure from First Union Corp.
Florida Banks Inc., Jacksonville, will use the name Florida Bank N.A., instead of Florida National Bank. The holding company announced last month it intends to found or buy banks throughout the state and combine them under a single banner.
In January 1990, First Union bought a Jacksonville bank named Florida National. The North Carolina banking company replaced the Florida National signs with its own but retained rights to the acquired name.
T. Stephen Johnson, chairman of the Roswell, Ga.-based consulting firm T. Stephen Johnson & Associates and an organizer of Florida Banks Inc., said his group was unaware of the conflict until contacted last week by First Union. "When First Union notified us, I offered to buy the name or not use it," Mr. Johnson said. "They said it would be better if we didn't use it, and I said 'fine.'"
Mr. Johnson is no stranger to name disputes. He is advising Chattahoochee National Bank, an Alpharetta, Ga., start-up that is squabbling with NationsBank Corp. over its name.
NationsBank bought a bank that had purchased another bank called Chattahoochee in 1994. But unlike Florida Banks, Chattahoochee officials have said they will fight NationsBank for use of the name.
The difference, Mr. Johnson said, is that First Union has protected the Florida National name and that laws vary from state to state. Regardless, he said, he is satisfied with the new name.
"We wanted a name that tells people our offices are a Florida bank," Mr. Johnson said. "The new name gets our point across just as well as Florida National."