Moody's Investors Service Inc. upgraded $150 million of Firstar Corp.'s debt, and assigned an A1 rating to the company's largest subsidiary banks.

The rating agency pointed to the company's improving performance and the sound prospect that it would continue to demonstrate positive results well into the future.

Firstar's large consumer deposit system has contributed to high margins, Moody's said, and its fee businesses - trusts, mortgage banking, and data processing - diversify its revenue stream.

'Superior Capital Levels'

Also, the bank has expanded its strong position in the Wisconsin market into other states, Moody's said.

"Moody's believes that management is committed to maintaining superior capital levels and excellent asset quality while growing assets internally and through acquisition," the ratings agency explained.

Moody's raised Firstar's senior debt from A3 to A2, and its subordinated debt from Baa 1 to A3.

Short-Term Deposits Rated Prime-1

And Moody's assigned an A1 rating to the long-term deposits and other senior and counterparty obligations of both Firstar Bank Milwaukee and Firstar Bank of Minnesota, and a Prime-1 rating for their short-term deposits and other senior obligations.

Firstar, with $14 billion in consolidated assets, is based in Milwaukee.

It has 36 banks and 198 offices throughout Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Arizona, and Florida.

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