The Massachusetts congressional delegation has sent a letter of concern to Fleet Financial Group chairman Terrence Murray complaining about "the disproportionate" share of job losses the state may suffer as a result of Fleet's merger with Shawmut National Corp.
The letter, signed by all the state's congressmen and its two U.S. senators, pointed out that newspaper stories have reported Mr. Murray plans to slightly increase operations in Rhode Island and to spare Connecticut of job losses altogether.
"That leaves Massachusetts as the target for most, if not all, of this employment downsizing," the delegation wrote.
Mr. Murray was not available to comment on the letter. Fleet spokeswoman Meg Pier said a response to the delegation's May 15 missive was being prepared.
"Fleet is a very healthy financial institution that will be domiciled in Boston with extraordinary resources that will benefit the local economy. While there may be some short-term adjustments, this merger will ultimately mean good things for the region," she said.
Fleet expects to eliminate approximately 3,000 positions, or about 10% of the combined work force. "That figure was widely viewed as an unfortunate but understandable impact given the initial expectation of an in-market merger," according to Ms. Pier. The merger is expected to close this fall.
In March, Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland also complained about job losses in his state due to the Fleet-Shawmut merger. At the time, the Connecticut attorney general said he would review the merger agreement for antitrust implications.
Fleet responded by saying it would open a 24-hour telephone banking center in the Greater Hartford area.
The Massachusetts attorney general is also reviewing the merger agreement. And the congressmen pointed out in their letter that it was incumbent upon "especially large banks which benefit from federal deposit insurance to attend to not only the bottom line but also the broader social impact of . . . business decisions."