WASHINGTON - In the first such application under the 1994 interstate banking law, NationsBank Corp. has asked the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for permission to merge its Virginia and North Carolina banks.

The new law doesn't go into effect fully until 1997, but the Virginia and North Carolina legislatures both voted to opt in early and allow interstate banking this month.

If the application goes through as expected, NationsBank will by early 1996 operate as a single entity from Maryland to South Carolina. The merged bank would continue to be based in Charlotte, N.C., and be called NationsBank. It would be the holding company's largest subsidiary, topping NationsBank of Texas.

The Texas bank would remain a separate entity, as would NationsBank Corp. subsidiaries in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Using the so-called "30-mile rule," which allows nationally chartered banks to move their headquarters 30 miles and keep the old headquarters as a branch, NationsBank had already won permission from the OCC to consolidate its Maryland and District of Columbia operations into its Virginia bank and its South Carolina operations into its North Carolina bank.

"We would like to operate all of our banks as one bank," said NationsBank spokeswoman Mary Waller. "The motivation is customer convenience."

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