Fast-growing NationsBank Corp. on Tuesday filed for regulatory approval to issue up to $4 billion in debt and equity, the largest shelf registration ever by a commercial bank.

Combined with $1 billion left from a previous shelf filing, the North Carolina bank company can now issue up to $5 billion in securities.

NationsBank is expected to tap the capital markets to finance its recent buying spree.

Four Deals

In the past year, NationsBank has struck deals to acquire MNC Financial Inc., a Baltimore bank company with $16 billion of assets; Chrysler First, a consumer finance company with $4 billion of assets; Chicago Research and Trading, an options firm, and the $2.3 billion-asset financial services subsidiary of U.S. West Inc.

"They are buying a lot of assets which have to be funded." said Joseph Labriola, a bond analyst with Kidder Peabody & Co.

A shelf registration, which is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, permits a company to register securities it expects to sell within two years.

The maneuver gives an issuer the flexibility to move quickly once market conditions are seen as advantageous. Companies are not required to issue the full amount registered.

Seen Raising $1.4 Billion

The largest previous shelf registration for equity and straight corporate debt by a commercial bank was for $3.3 billion by BankAmerica Corp. in November 1991, according to Securities Data Co.

NationsBank will probably raise at least $1.4 billion in the capital markets before the end of the year, a spokesman said.

The company, which has $123.8 billion of assets, has become a more active issuer as it has grown. The bank has raised $1.835 billion in the capital markets so far this year, more than it did in the five years ending in 1991, according to Securities Data.

U.S. West, MNC Deals

Two pending acquisitions are scheduled to close by yearend. The company last week agreed to pay about $2.4 billion in cash for the assets of U.S. West

Financial Services. And the MNC deal, set to be completed on Oct. 1, is expected to cost about $1.4 billion, which will be paid in cash and stock, said the spokesman.

The spokesman said no firm plans have been made for financing the two acquisitions. A NationsBank treasury official declined to comment.

But since NationsBank had $1 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of June, the bank will probably need to raise at least $1.4 billion in the capital markets before the end of the year, the spokesman said.

Upgrade Possible

Moody's Investors Service is reviewing Nationsbank's senior debt for possible upgrade. Moody's currently rates the debt A3. Standard & Poor's rates the senior debt A.

Separately, State Street Boston Corp. filed for a shelf offering of up to $250 million of debt securities.

The company said in a filing with the SEC that proceeds will be used for general purposes, including debt repayment or refinancing. Underwriters may include Goldman Sachs & Co., the company said.

Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. on Tuesday upgraded the credit ratings of Keycorp. The bank's senior debt was raised to A from A-minus, subordinated debt was raised to A-minus from BBB-plus, and preferred stock was raised to BBB-plus from BBB.

The agency said "the rating upgrades reflect Keycorp's solid operating fundamentals. Geographic diversification and a consumer/small-business lending focus have helped Keycorp maintain better-than-average asset quality and an overall lower risk profile."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.