Veteran bank analyst Thomas H. Hanley said he expects bank mergers will accelerate in the fourth and first quarters, propelled by deals already struck this year.
Mr. Hanley, of Warburg Dillon Read, told clients during a Friday morning conference call that recently unveiled conglomerations by Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston Corp. and by Zions Bancorp and First Security Corp. will pave the way for more activity.
Those deals involved a substantial proportion of the banking market in their home states, Massachusetts and Utah, said Mr. Hanley.
"As we head into the fourth quarter this year and the first half of next year, all hell will break loose," Mr. Hanley said in the call. "The fourth- quarter deals will be rather prudent, but the first half will get more wild," he predicted.
The swell of mergers will consist mostly of transactions between equals and "functional deals," he said. An example of a hypothetical functional deal would be Chase Manhattan Corp. and Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter & Co., or American International Group Inc. and American Express Co., Mr. Hanley said.
Many recent bank deals have landed in "bank purgatory," Mr. Hanley said. Stocks of many acquirers have languished, but some "are clawing their way" up and out. Examples include Wells Fargo & Co., which was bought by Norwest, and Bank One Corp., which bought First Chicago NBD Corp., last year.
Mr. Hanley said transnational deals also will pick up because he expects passage of helpful legislation this year. "European banks will buy American insurers," said Mr. Hanley. "American banks are not interested in American insurers yet, he said.
- Tania Padgett