Prudential to Buy 51% of Mexican Firm

MEXICO CITY - Prudential Insurance Co. of America announced Tuesday that it would acquire a 51% stake in Mexican fund manager Apolo Operadora de Sociedades de Inversion SA.Manuel Somoza, who founded Apolo two years ago, will retain a 49% stake and continue to run the company's day-to-day operations as chairman and general director after the deal closes later this year. Apolo, to be renamed Prudential Apolo Operadora de Sociedades de Inversion SA, sells fixed-income and equity mutual funds to individuals and institutional clients. It had $80 million of assets under management as of Oct. 31.

Prudential will provide its global asset management expertise, as well as its technology and capital, to a line of funds that invests mainly in Mexican securities, said Stephen Pelletier, executive vice president of Prudential's international investment unit.

This would be the first entry into Mexico for Newark, N.J.-based Prudential. Prudential, which already has operations elsewhere in Latin America as well as in Europe and Asia, is seeking to expand its global reach. Prudential managed or administered $375 billion in assets worldwide as of Oct. 31.

- Amy L. Anderson

Fleet Investment Unit Hires Senior Exec

SAN FRANCISCO - Robertson Stephens Inc., the investment banking arm of FleetBoston Financial Corp., said Tuesday that it hired Steven Tishman to head its consumer, services, and growth banking groups.Mr. Tishman was previously a senior managing director at Bear, Stearns & Co., where he worked for 15 years. As a managing director at Robertson Stephens, he will also lead the firm's New York office.

Bank One to Expand Lending to Immigrants

HOUSTON - Bank One Mortgage, part of Bank One Corp., said Tuesday that it is expanding its home loan program for immigrants to the Houston market.The unit of Bank One Corp. will extend loans to immigrants through a partnership it began this month in Chicago with Fannie Mae. Fannie's $150 million program, the New Immigrants Initiative, which was unveiled in May, will enable immigrants in Houston, Miami, New York City, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area with two years of residence and work history to obtain a home loan with low down payments and relaxed credit requirements.

- Joshua Brockman

Home Loan Bank Launches Collateral Plan

NEW YORK - The Home Loan Bank of New York on Tuesday began a program in which its member banks can use its AAA-rated letters of credit to collateralize their state and municipal deposits.The Home Loan bank said Cayuga Bank of Auburn, N.Y., has entered into a letter-of-credit agreement for about $13 million to collateralize a deposit from a local school district.

Under a recently passed New York law, commercial banks were given the authority to pledge a letter of credit for security against state and municipal deposits. The 1998 change requires the letter of credit to be 140% of the total amount of the public deposit. Previously, a commercial bank had no other option than to pledge securities held in its portfolio.

Ohio Thrifts to Merge in $24M Stock Deal

WARREN, Ohio - First Place Financial Corp. said Tuesday that it has agreed to buy Ravenna (Ohio) Savings Bank for $24 million of stock. The deal would create a $1 billion-asset thrift company with 16 branches in five northeastern Ohio counties.First Place would exchange 2.033 of its shares for each share of Ravenna's stock. The deal, expected to close in the second quarter, is valued at 1.9 times Ravenna's book value and 14.6 times its trailing 12-month earnings. Ravenna, founded in 1923, has $200 million of assets and five branches. First Place, parent of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Warren, has $796 million of assets and 11 branches.

- Matt Andrejczak

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