Mellon Bank Corp. has announced plans to acquire an investment manager in Florida to further the expansion of its private banking business.

Pittsburgh-based Mellon said Monday that it would close a deal to buy Ganz Capital Management in the second quarter. Ganz, based in North Miami Beach, manages $400 million for wealthy individuals. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ganz, founded in 1971, will be folded into Mellon Private Asset Management, which has more than $54 billion of client assets under management and administration.

Mellon's private asset management business has swelled by more than 50% since 1993, when it acquired another money manager, the Boston Co. But the Ganz deal is about presence, not scope, according to Mellon executives.

"In addition to assets, people are very important in this business," said David F. Lamere, Mellon's senior vice president in charge of investment management and trust. "An acquisition allows us to enter a market with people who have a reputation in a local market."

Along with client assets, Mellon will take on 20 employees of Ganz, including its president, Charles B. Ganz, and senior portfolio manager, Gloria M. Zaldivar.

The acquisition will be similar to another made by Mellon to get into a new market. In 1994 it acquired Belden & Associates, San Francisco, which had $200 million under management. Ganz, like Belden, will do business as Mellon Private Asset Management.

Mr. Lamere said Mellon's services in Florida have been limited in this decade to visiting existing clients from up north who also have homes in the Sunshine State.

Florida's private banking turf is crowded. Merrill Lynch & Co. and other brokerages-including local firms Raymond James & Associates Inc., St. Petersburg, and J.W. Charles Financial Services Inc., Boca Raton-blanket the state.

In addition to Barnett Banks Inc., the largest homegrown banking company, several others with private client groups have dug into Florida. They include: Bank of New York Co., Bankers Trust New York Corp., Bessemer Trust Co., Chase Manhattan Corp., Citicorp, J. P. Morgan & Co., KeyCorp, NationsBank Corp., Northern Trust Corp., SunTrust Banks Inc., and U.S. Trust Corp.

Others have made recent commitments to build client bases in Florida, such as Lehman Brothers Inc., Bank of Boston Corp., Fleet Financial Group Inc., and Comerica Inc. PaineWebber Inc. refers Florida trust clients to Comerica under an alliance.

"If you want to play in the investment management game nationally, an ante in Florida is required," said Michael P. Kostoff, managing director of Advisory Board, a Washington private banking consulting firm.

Mellon had been in Florida before, through a Boca Raton bank it sold to SunTrust in February 1989.

"In the late '80s Mellon, not unlike many peers, scaled back in certain areas," a bank spokesman said. "Mellon is in a completely different position today. We did not have the resources to pursue growth at that time."

Mr. Lamere said Mellon would not miss the boat because the number of wealthy households in Florida is increasing at a rate high enough to support many competitors.

"If you look at the people who are significant in private asset management," he added, "all of them have strongholds in different parts of the country, but nobody has a stronghold in all parts of the country."

The number of households in Florida whose members have more than $1 million of investable assets grew 33%, to 289,780, in 1996, according to Payment Systems Inc., a Tampa research firm.

"Even though the competition is heating up, there is still business to be had," said John J. DeMarco, senior vice president of PSI.

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