Fourth Financial Corp. is seeking approval from the Comptroller's office to move its Missouri bank to Kansas and merge it into its subsidiary there.

If approved, the move would allow the $7.6 billion-asset, Wichita-based holding company to operate in both states under one charter, that of Bank IV Kansas. The new bank would have $5.1 billion in assets and 106 branches across Kansas and Missouri.

For Bob Wightman, president of the Kansas City marketing area for Bank IV Kansas, the move signals an end to the confusion among customers that was created by the parent company's February acquisition of Standard Bank and Trust of Independence, Mo., now Bank IV Missouri.

"There's some confusion among customers who see a Bank IV sign on one side of the street and another Bank IV sign on the other side, but because they're in separate states, they couldn't transact business at both of them," he said. "It simplifies our customer relationship management because we won't have to worry about which charter we're dealing with."

The acquisition of Standard Bank, located just northeast of Kansas City, Mo., gave Fourth Financial a foothold in the Show Me State. As an added benefit, its proximity to the Kansas border allowed the company to take advantage of a rule allowing national banks to move their headquarters up to 30 miles, even across state lines.

In this case, the application asks for permission to move into the state where the parent company is based.

Mr. Wightman said the consolidation wouldn't reduce expenses substantially.

"What you're really dealing with is the incremental costs of all those internal bookkeeping requirements of operating separate charters," he said. "I think the cost savings here are minimal."

Nonetheless, Steve Schroll, a bank analyst with Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis, said cost-cutting efforts will lead to more banks consolidating their charters to one per state.

Firstar Corp. of Milwaukee is an example. He said the $17 billion-asset company recently consolidated its banks in Iowa and is expected to continue that effort in other states as well.

"The trick is to do it and still maintain a degree of autonomy in each state," Mr. Schroll stressed. "You want to leave the front office in place but take out the back office."

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