After NationsBank merges with BankAmerica, the new bank would operate its massive syndicated lending business from five regional offices, said the executive who would run the business.
Though a plan that would move BankAmerica Corp.'s loan trading desk from Chicago to Charlotte, N.C., is being considered, the combined bank's five U.S. loan originations offices would remain intact, said Thomas W. Bunn, the NationsBank executive who would head the combined bank's lending effort.
"Frankly, we're still talking about the trading side," Mr. Bunn said, but "we still don't foresee major changes."
Mr. Bunn and BankAmerica's Robert C. Griffin were recently named co- heads of global floating-rate debt, global fixed-rate debt origination and structuring, and global leveraged finance for the post-merger bank.
Mr. Bunn would run global floating-rate structuring and distribution; par and near par loan trading; crossover and high-grade fixed-income debt origination and structuring; debt and equity bridge financing; commercial paper and medium-term note products; and global debt private placements.
In an interview last week Mr. Bunn said he wanted to keep "a few people" at the new bank's regional office. NationsBank has loan underwriting offices in Charlotte and Dallas, and BankAmerica has offices in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.
Executives of the new bank say they are stopping short of a major shake- up to use the regional offices to build close relationships with smaller corporations that need to borrow and with smaller loan investors.
"We don't want to have 45 outposts," Mr. Bunn said, "but we want our customers to know our product capabilities. That will result in multiple origination and structuring locations."
Rumors about the fate of BankAmerica's lending offices have been circulating since the banks announced their merger agreement in April. Last month some BankAmerica employees in Chicago were notified of a possible relocation.
"There's a lot of fear people are going to have to move to Charlotte," one banker said. "That's not very appealing to some people living in New York or Chicago."
The combined bank would rival Chase Manhattan Corp. as the nation's biggest syndicated lender. The new bank probably would make more deals but would be neck and neck with Chase in volume, participating in about $450 billion in loans a year.
Since the merger announcement, Chase bankers have been on the offensive. Chase has said the new BankAmerica could not run a global lending operation because it would not be based in New York.
That has irritated Mr. Bunn, who said the new bank would be a global player. The combined bank would have a presence in Latin America and Asia, he said.
"Together we're going to focus on Europe," he said.
As for the new BankAmerica's standing among U.S. corporations, Mr. Bunn points to a survey indicating that the combined bank would have relationships with 31% of the nation's 1,174 biggest corporations, compared with 29% for Chase.
"I want to be No. 1 in the industries we target, but being No. 1 isn't as important as being profitable," Mr. Bunn said. "I want to be the most profitable."
Mr. Bunn said he thinks the new BankAmerica's regional approach would build the kind of relationships that would lead to deals like the one recently completed for Worldcom Inc.
NationsBank had syndicated $300 million for Jackson, Miss.-based Worldcom when it was a small start-up. On Friday, the bank completed syndication of a $12 billion loan for Worldcom's buyout of MCI Corp.
"If we're doing an average deal size of $500 million and someone else is doing $600 million deals, I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep on a $100 million difference," he said.