Las Vegas' biggest independent bank said this week that it has rebuffed a merger overture from a multistate bank holding company.

The $275 million-asset American Bancorp of Nevada was approached with an unsolicited offer but is no longer interested in a deal, said chief executive James V. Bradham.

"This bank is not now for sale, nor has it ever been for sale," Mr. Bradham said Tuesday. "They called us, we didn't call them. The bank is not on the block for sale."

Mr. Bradham added that the bank's board of directors would consider any serious inquiry from a qualified party.

American Bancorp's banking subsidiary, American Bank of Commerce, founded in 1979, has three branches, all in Las Vegas. It is the second- largest independent bank in the state.

Mr. Bradham didn't reveal the name of the suitor but did say it was an out-of-state institution with other holdings in Nevada.

That would make the possible candidates Norwest Corp., Minneapolis; U.S. Bancorp, Portland, Ore.; BankAmerica Corp., San Francisco; and Salt Lake City's First Security Bancorp, and Zions Bancorp.

Norwest and U.S. Bancorp said their policy was not to comment on acquisition rumors. Officials from the other companies could not be reached for comment.

Nevada has been the scene of a good deal of merger activity in recent years. Most recently, Norwest announced plans to buy the state's two largest thrifts, Primerit Bank, Las Vegas, and American Federal Savings Bank, Reno.

Norwest has completed its acquisition of American Federal, and the deal with Primerit is expected to close this summer. At that point, Norwest would rank third in the state in total assets, behind BankAmerica and Wells Fargo & Co., San Francisco.

"I think Norwest would love to have some commercial banking assets to add to their Nevada package," said Ben Crabtree, an analyst at Dain Bosworth Inc., Minneapolis. "It makes sense that they would be interested."

Norwest chief executive Richard Kovacevich sang Nevada's praises last summer after his company announced plans to buy American Federal.

"Nevada has been the fastest-growing state, both economically and in population, for the past several years," he said, "and that's certainly an important part of the reason for wanting to be here."

Wells Fargo is still in transition after its merger with First Interstate Bancorp this year, so BankAmerica remains a stronger possibility among California banks. BankAmerica has more than $4 billion of assets in its Las Vegas-based subsidiary, Bank of America Nevada.

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