Bank One Laying Off 250 in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS - Bank One Corp. confirmed Thursday that it will lay off 250 employees from its home equity telemarketing group in Indianapolis.The company told employees that the move was part of a "strategic realignment" in which the bank will concentrate consumer lending efforts closer to its existing branches. The move, which affects about 5% of Bank One's work force in the city, follows an undisclosed number of job cuts at its credit card subsidiary, First USA Inc., earlier this month.

A Bank One spokesman said the layoffs were part of the bank's effort to consolidate its consumer lending businesses under its retail bank. Bank One has been working to cut costs after several quarters in which earnings were below expectations.

- Andrew Ward

Gold Banc Bargains Down Prices on 3 Deals

LEAWOOD, Kan. - Gold Banc Corp. said it has negotiated lower prices on three of its soon-to-close acquisitions, following a decline in its stock price.The company's stock - which Gold Banc is using to purchase the three banks - had dropped to $9.13 by Thursday morning, from $16.38 last May.

In the largest of the three pending deals, $1.4 billion-asset Gold said on Wednesday that it now expects to pay $78 million for American Bancshares Inc., a $471 million-asset bank based in Bradenton, Fla. That represents a 14.7% drop from the $91.4 million purchase price announced in September.

Gold Banc also made it harder for American Bancshares to walk away from the merger. American previously could back off the deal if Gold Banc's shares were trading below $10. Now they must be trading below $9.25.

In the next-largest deal, Gold fixed the price for $530 million-asset CountryBanc Holding Co. of Edmond, Okla., at $75.7 million and eliminated the bank's option to walk away. When the CountryBanc acquisition was announced in late October, Gold said it expected to pay $82.7 million.

Gold Banc also said it had dropped its expected purchase price for $120 million-asset First Business Bancshares of Kansas City, Mo., to $24.7 million from the $26.7 million price that was announced in October. Gold Banc said it still expects to close all three deals in March.

- Craig Woker

Blue Card Loyalty Program Makes Debut

NEW YORK - American Express Co. launched a loyalty program on Thursday for cardmembers with Blue, the first credit card on the market with a smart chip.Unlike Amex's Membership Rewards program, BlueLoot is managed exclusively on-line. Cardmembers register, browse the rewards catalogue, and redeem points at the Blue Web site.

Blue, introduced in September, can be used as a regular credit card or from a personal computer with a smart card reader. The chip adds a level of security to on-line shopping.

Registered cardmembers will earn one point for each dollar spent with Blue on the Internet or at walk-in retailers. Amex says its more than 40 brand-name offerings are aimed at the same professional, technologically sophisticated consumers it targets with Blue. Rewards include gift certificates for books and music, electronic equipment, and sports, recreation, and travel gear.

Andover of Mass. to Buy In-State Bank

ANDOVER, Mass. - Andover Bancorp announced a deal to Thursday to buy Gloucester (Mass.) Bank and Trust Co. for about $16.2 million in cash and stock.Andover, with $1.5 billion of assets, has offered Gloucester shareholders either $20.50 cash or 0.7543 shares of Andover stock for each share of Gloucester stock. Andover's shares were trading at $26.375 at midday Thursday.

- Alan Kline

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