BUFFALO -- Marine Midland Banks Inc., the U.S. banking unit of London-based HSBC Holdings PLC, reported a 19% rise in third-quarter profits to $57.7 million from $48.5 million a year earlier.

The increase came mainly from improved net interest income and lower operating expenses. Net interest income rose 4% to $189 million, a 14% rise in lees and commissions to $31.3 million.

Operating expenses declined 5% to $176 million. Net income for the first nine months of 1994 rose 31% to $167 million.

The improved earnings, announced Tuesday, boosted Marine's return on average assets to 1.41% from 1.15% and its return on average common equity to 16.11% from 15.48%. Interest and dividends from securities fell 45% to $22.7 million, mainly as a result of a fall in securities prices.

Marine, a New York state regional bank with $17.6 billion in assets, noted that "net interest margins continued to be wide compared to 1993 despite an across-the-board increase of more than 50 basis points on savings deposits."

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