KeyCorp said Tuesday it had agreed to buy 80% of Leasetec Corp., a $1.2 billion-asset computer and telecommunications equipment leasing company in Boulder, Colo.

Terms of the deal were not announced. But analysts estimated that Cleveland-based KeyCorp will pay up to $400 million. They said the business could add about $10 million, or about 5 cents per share, to the bank's earnings in 1998.

The $67 billion-asset bank already has $2.7 billion in leasing receivables and claims to hold the fourth-largest leasing business among banks. Analysts said the deal was in line with its plan to invest in higher-margin businesses, including securities, consumer finance and leasing.

"This gives them a little more critical mass in what has been a profitable business for them," said Joseph K. Morford, an analyst with Alex. Brown & Sons, Baltimore. "It's a slightly riskier piece of business, computer equipment, because this stuff goes obsolete very quickly."

Privately owned Leasetec specializes in leasing telecommunications and other equipment to midsize companies. Leasetec, which has alliances with Xerox Corp., Digital Equipment Corp., and other companies, generated $1 billion in new leases last year. The company will operate as a subsidiary of KeyCorp Leasing Ltd., the bank company's leasing unit.

Leasetec operates 40 offices in the United States, Canada, elsewhere on the Pacific Rim, and in Europe. A unit of Japan's Dai-Ichi Kangyo Ltd. holds a 20% stake in Leasetec and will continue to do so.

Frank J. Barkocy, an analyst with Josephthal Lyon & Ross, said the deal is indicative of how banks are focusing more on nontraditional businesses. In light of Sunday's announcement that Bankers Trust is buying Alex. Brown, he predicted a busy summer for acquisitions.

Banks have been active acquirers of leasing companies over the past year. SNL Securities reports that there were 24 leasing companies sold last year, mostly to banks.

Ford Motor Co., for instance, sold its USL Capital Corp. to Mellon Bank Corp. and BankAmerica Corp. Mellon paid a $200 million premium over the $1.5 billion portfolio it bought, while BankAmerica bought a $1.8 billion portfolio at par value.

In February, TCF Financial Corp. agreed to pay $326 million for Winthrop Resources Corp., which leases computer and technology equipment to companies and has $327 million in leased assets.

The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter, KeyCorp said, and be accretive to earnings in 1997, including goodwill amortization to account for the purchase.

KeyCorp said it would pay for the deal in part through the sale of 140 branches that it's selling in a major restructuring of its retail bank. It has already sold about half of those offices for about $200 million.

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