WASHINGTON - NationsBank Corp. won permission to consolidate its Middle Atlantic subsidiaries into a single Virginia bank that also has branches in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
In announcing the approval on Friday, the Comptroller's office said it also gave American National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago and Commercial National Bank of Texarkana in Arkansas permission to branch interstate using a legal loophole.
National banks may move their main offices 30 miles or less, enter a new state, and operate the original bank as a branch under an 1886 statute. The so called 30-mile rule has been aggressively used in the past year by a dozen banks, particularly $170 billion-asset NationsBank Corp. and $33.4 billion-asset First Fidelity Bancorp.
Julie L. Williams, the Comptroller's chief counsel, recently said she expects another dozen such moves this year.
"My estimate is that we will probably have about the same pace of applications in the pipeline" in 1995 as in 1994, she said.
NationsBank's Middle Atlantic bank is now based in Bethesda, Md., with branches in that state and in the District of Columbia.
The approval allows it to move its main office to nearby McLean, Va., and to merge into NationsBank of Virginia, which is headquartered in Richmond.
In its approval, the Comptroller's office argued that a statute prohibiting out-of-state banks from owning branches in Maryland violates the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause, which limits states' abilities to erect barriers to interstate trade.
The agency also argued the Maryland law is preempted by federal law, which allows the move.
NationsBank Corp., headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., also owns NationsBank Carolinas, a single bank with branches in North Carolina and South Carolina. The holding company now runs seven banks - down from 10 a year ago.
Its other banks are in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.
American National Bank and Trust Company of Wisconsin won approval to move its main office 25 miles from Genoa City, Wis., to Libertyville, Ill., where it merged with Chicago's American National. The move will create a $6.25 billion-asset interstate bank with 20 branches in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Also, the Comptroller's office allowed Commercial National Bank of Texarkana to move its main office from the Arkansas side of Texarkana to the Texas side. In doing so, the agency overruled the objections of regulators in both states.
The move will produce a $92 million-asset Texas bank with three branches in Arkansas.