The engine driving deals between NationsBank Corp. and its recently acquired investment banking firm, San Francisco-based Montgomery Securities, is picking up steam.
Cross-sales-transactions involving clients formerly associated with either only the bank or the securities firm-accounted for $40 million in incremental revenues in the fourth quarter for NationsBank, the Charlotte, N.C.-banking company said.
And in the first five weeks of this year cross-sales have nearly equaled those of the fourth quarter, bringing in around $37 million in incremental revenues, said James H. Hance Jr., chief financial officer and vice chairman of NationsBank.
"It's not the numbers that are important right now, but the trend," said Mr. Hance. "We expect this portion of our business to be the fastest growing."
NationsBank completed its acquisition of Montgomery Securities in October. It combined the securities firm with its section 20 subsidiary and dubbed the new unit NationsBanc Montgomery Securities Inc.
Hal Schroeder, a bank equity analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., said he thinks an increase in cross-sales is likely. "All the players are in place to make it happen," he said.
Representatives of NationsBank, the fifth-largest U.S. banking company with assets of $240 billion, say they have gotten about 85 referrals of clients associated with Montgomery before the merger. Meanwhile, the bank has referred about 100 clients with a relationship at NationsBank to its new securities unit, primarily for equity issuance.
The acquisition of Montgomery brought equities capabilities to the bank for the first time. Before that, its securities unit focused on debt issuance and a brokerage operation.
One of the largest of the cross-sales involved Highwood Properties Inc., a Baton Rouge, La.-based real estate investment trust that has been a NationsBank customer since its founding in 1978. Merrill Lynch & Co. brought the company public in 1994, but Highwood chose to go with NationsBanc Montgomery Securities for its recent $262.5 million equity issue.
"We were interested in diversifying the distribution of our equity," said Carman Liuzzo, Highwood's chief financial officer.
Mr. Liuzzo said Highwood had been won over by Montgomery's private client distribution network and its relationships with institutional investors. But, he said, the fact that Montgomery had an analyst in place who understood the REIT from prior trading in its stock was another key factor.
Many industry specialties at the former securities firm overlapped with those of the bank, including real estate, health care, communications, and finance.
But Montgomery Securities did not have as strong an energy unit as NationsBank.
Mr. Hance said the bank is building up the energy platform at NationsBanc Montgomery Securities by adding both researchers and investment bankers.
NationsBanc Montgomery Securities ran an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal last week announcing 22 new senior managing directors. These appointments resulted from a combination of promotions, transfers from other units of the bank, and a couple of new hires.