Community banks are usually viewed more as sellers than buyers, but a new survey shows many have a yen to buy other small banks to stay competitive.

Thirty-seven percent of the 808 community banks responding to a survey by Grant Thornton, the accounting and consulting firm, believed they would need to acquire one or more banks by July 1997, when nationwide banking begins. The same percentage, 37%, said they expected they would need to establish new offices in-state, and 7% were eying offices out of state.

"Community banks recognize that they cannot rely just on traditional strategies any longer," says Diane Casey, national director of financial institutions regulatory issues for Grant Thornton. "If they are going to survive and prosper in an interstate environment, they must also consider growth opportunities."Bank Mergers in 2nd Half 1995Institutions Value in BillionsChemical Banking Corp. $10.0Chase Manhattan Corp.First Chicago Corp. $5.1NBD BancorpPNC Financial Corp. $2.9Midlantic Corp.National City Corp. $2.1Integra Financial Corp.Nations Bank Corp. $1.6Bank South Corp.Boatmen's Bancshares $1.2Fourth Financial Corp.UJB Financial Corp. $1.2Summit Bancorp. Which steps will your bank need to take toremain competitive in an interstate environment? Cross-sell more services 93%Introduce new services 81%Acquire one or more other banks 37%Expand within our state 37%Expad across state lines 7%Be acquired by another institution 7%

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