WASHINGTON -- NationsBank Corp. chief executive Hugh L. McColl Jr. said Tuesday that a repeal of laws barring interstate branching would free as much as $100 billion for business loans.

Mr. McColl, a vocal branching proponent, also said the industry could save $5 billion to $10 billion a year if multistate holding companies like his were permitted to merge their banks under a single charter.

Sees |Crippling' of Banks

In a speech to 1,300 people at the Greater Washington Board of Trade's annual meeting, he said outdated laws and regulations have "crippled banks" and slowed the economy.

"Who would say that our country doesn't need more capital for job-creating loans?" Mr. McColl said. "We must allow our banking industry to compete and prosper."

Mr. McColl, whose company operates 382 branches in the Washington-Maryland-Virginia region and about 1,800 overall, answered critics who have charged that NationsBank has not been making enough loans.

"If our company has a bias," he said, "it is a bias for doing business - whether it is helping an individual make the right personal financial choices or enabling a business" to expand.

Pointing out that 70% of the Charlotte, N.C.-based company's $1 billion in earnings this year will come from lending, he said, "We want to lend" in the capital region. "We've never been in such a good position" to fulfill a role of "successful partnership and enlightened social stewardship."

A Clinton Supporter

Mr. McColl said NationsBank, which ranks fourth among U.S. bank holding companies, with $118 billion in assets, is "fully behind" the new Clinton administration.

The President-elect "faces many challenges," said Mr. McColl. "We at NationsBank intend to be part of the solution of the economic recovery."

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