Executives at NationsBank Corp. are betting that a new emphasis on the industrial sector will spur cross-selling between the bank and its new investment banking unit.
The industrial growth group, which was launched this month, has 10 investment bankers and three senior research analysts. The small to midsize companies it is designed to serve have long been clients of the bank's commercial lending division.
"For years we've funded a lot of growth in the industrial sector using senior bank debt, raising a lot of companies to the level where they ultimately went to the public equity markets," said Carlos Evans, NationsBank's executive vice president in charge of commercial banking for the Carolinas.
Mr. Evans said that many of the smaller industrial companies his group serves would not be called high-growth. "Many of them don't have double- digit growth rates," he said. "But there is a huge consolidation going on in these industries, and on a consolidated basis the new companies could be defined as high-growth."
Tarlton Long, a managing director at NationsBanc Montgomery Securities who will head the new group, said that these companies will be seeking advice on mergers and acquisitions.
"I do feel that there is intensifying consolidation pressures in more and more industry groups, including industrials," Mr. Long said. "The buyout community is so heavily capitalized that more and more basic industrial concerns are becoming of interest to the private equity markets."
Mr. Long said he also thinks many smaller industrial companies would be interested in going public. "Equity markets are at high levels, and companies are seeking equity financing," he said.
Montgomery Securities, which merged with NationsBank in October, had traditionally been strong in technology, health care, and retail. But the San Francisco-based securities firm had no background in the industrial sector.
The new group will provide research analysis and investment banking services for an array of industrial concerns, including textiles, electrical products, industrial equipment, packaging, building materials, automobile and aircraft parts suppliers, agribusiness, metals processing, distributors of manufactured goods, and consolidators of industrial businesses.
"Those sound like NationsBank's lending specialties," said Harold Schroeder, a bank equity analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "It makes sense to build off the core customer base as long as they are playing from some strength that one side of the organization or the other has."
Russell Leavitt and James Samuels, both senior managing directors at NationsBanc Montgomery, left Salomon Smith Barney to create the industrial growth research team. Charles Slaybaugh is the third principal. He joined the bank from Salomon in 1992.
Mr. Leavitt, who will head the research team, said he plans to expand his staff over the next several months. He covers the electrical equipment sector, while Mr. Samuels covers manufacturing and Mr. Slaybaugh covers forest products.