NationsBank Corp. and Banc One Corp. have told regulators that they each expect to absorb more than $1 billion in charges to complete their pending mergers.
NationsBank, in a regulatory disclosure Tuesday, said it will spend $1.3 billion in its deal with BankAmerica Corp., mainly to cover employee severance, office closings, and system conversions.
Banc One said in a filing last week that it expects a similar charge of $1.25 billion associated with its purchase of First Chicago NBD Corp.
NationsBank's figure startled analysts. They expected it to be about 30% lower because the merger lacks the in-market overlaps that usually drive up restructuring costs.
But neither set of restructuring charges comes close to the $2 billion that some analysts expect to see in Citicorp and Travelers Group Inc.'s planned creation of Citigroup.
These pretax expenses, usually tucked away in disclosures that follow merger announcements, illustrate how costs are escalating for the banking companies following through on the recent spate of megadeals.
The long-term payoff is sought in lower-cost operations. "To the extent they can justify these costs, you should see greater efficiencies and profits," said Anthony R. Davis, banking analyst at SBC Warburg Dillon Read.
NationsBank, for instance, sees $1.3 billion of after-tax cost savings coming over the next two years from its $60 billion deal to acquire BankAmerica.
Still, "it's taking an awful lot of money" to restructure, Mr. Davis said.
Nancy Bush, analyst at Ryan, Beck & Co., said both NationsBank's and Banc One's charges were "proportionate to the size of the deals."
But some analysts saw in the high NationsBank figure an indication that these companies go into negotiations without a firm handle on post-merger costs.
"It's not possible to do all the due diligence you'd like" in the throes of merger preparations, said Carla D'Arista, banking analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey. "So there can be an element of surprise" when numbers are finally tallied.
Based on statements to analysts in mid-April, NationsBank should have come in about 30% lower, said Richard X. Bove of Raymond James Associates. The analysts were told about a lack of geographic overlap with BankAmerica, he said. That suggested there was less duplication than in typical in- market combinations, and there was an emphasis on attrition to cut staff, Mr. Bove said.
NationsBank in its filing Tuesday said the $1.3 billion represents "management's best estimates based on information available at this time."
A spokesman for the Charlotte, N.C., company declined to say exactly where the cuts would be or how many employees would be affected. He did say that Nations and BankAmerica, though not geographically close, both operate nationally and can find cost savings on that scale.
Analysts said likely business-line candidates include mortgage banking, credit cards, and back-office operations.
The observers regarded Banc One's deal with First Chicago NBD as more cut and dried, with plenty of opportunity to cut where overlaps occur. But a spokesman declined to elaborate on where the cuts might be concentrated.
Both deals are expected to close in the third quarter, with the cuts coming soon after.
Citicorp and Travelers are also shooting to complete their merger before yearend, and analysts said they are eager to see what charges result. "That's going to be the really big one," Mr. Bove said.
He and other analysts said the charge may end up topping $2 billion as the financial services industry's largest merger comes together.
Travelers and Citicorp, in separate filings to securities regulators, said they are expecting to report a figure but have not yet determined what it will be.