The summer wave of bank mergers drew mixed reviews - including sharp criticism - from bank analysts at a quarterly American Banker roundtable.
Some banks "are running big risks by having to focus on merger integration when what they should be doing is concentrating on their customers and becoming marketing-driven firms," said Thomas K. Brown, of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
Asserting that a "lemming-like mentality" has taken hold in the industry, Mr. Brown predicted that four years from now, acquirers such as U.S. Bancorp and National City Corp. could be merged out of existence, because their recently announced purchases didn't deliver the promised benefits to shareholders.
Robert Albertson, of Goldman, Sachs & Co., said that the mergers are generally a good thing. "We must not forget that banks have had this giant amount of cost sitting in back offices that will be blown away almost immediately after deal consummation.
"No one is saying all these deals are perfect, but the bulk of them so far have impressed me for their discipline. The key in any merger is to achieve a commanding market-share position in a region."
See story on page 12