NEW ORLEANS - Hibernia Corp. said the planned sale of its Texas bank to Detroit-based Comerica Inc. would not raise capital ratios enough for effective competition.

The deal was announced late Friday. Approval by banking regulators required.

The sale would bring Hibernia $63 million, most of which will be injected directly into capital.

This, along with a planned debt restructuring, would raise the bank's leverage ratio to 4.5%, president Stephen Hansel said at a press conference.

But he said that competitiveness requires "a stronger capital ratio than the 4.5%. We're now in a position where we need additional capital to achieve our full potential in Louisiana."

Aiming for 5.5%

Mr. Hansel said the company would like to improve its leverage ratio to 5.5%, which would require another $50 million. Hibernia is planning a common stock rights offering to raise this cash.

Comerica, meanwhile, said it will use the Hibernia purchase to expand its current Dallas-based operation into Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.

No charge is foreseen by Comerica in connection with the cash acquisition. Charles Gummer, president of Comerica Bank-Texas, said in an interview that he believes Hibernia National Bank in Texas has enough reserves to cover its problem assets.

"We expect their problem loans are adequately reserved for," he said. "These banks were mostly bought by Hibernia, so they've been through the merger process before."

Lone Star Expansion

The deal will nearly double Comerica's Texas assets, currently $1.3 billion.

Comerica last Thursday announced a $92 million after-tax charge associated with its recently completed stock acquisition of manufacturers National Corp., which led to a second-quarter loss of $15.4 million, or 28 cents a share.

Mr. Gummer said that, like the Manufacturers merger, which will bring major cost efficiencies to the two Detroit-based banks, the Hibernia acquisition will allow for consolidation of branch offices, data processing, and other administrative functions in Texas.

Shrinking Under Stress

The acquisition, which will be funded through Comerica's internal capital base, will give Comerica the critical mass it needs to compete more effectively with the larger banking companies in Texas, Mr. Gummer said, including Banc One Corp. and NationsBank Corp.

The sale would close a chapter in Hibernia's turbulent recent past. The company entered the Texas market by buying distressed banks but got caught in the same snare of bad real estate loans and a slow economy that had brought down its Texas targets. It has been selling assets so that it can stay afloat.

"The franchise in Texas is a good and obviously valuable one," said Mr. Hansel. "I regret we were not able to develop it at this time, but we have limited resources."

With the sale, Hibernia's assets will be cut to about $4.5 billion at down from $7.2 billion at this time last year.

Hibernia lost $5.86 a share in 1991 and 40 cents a share in 1990 but reported a profit of 2 cents a share in the quarter ended June 30.

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