NCNB, C&S/Sovran Target A Florida Center for Closing

Making their first major move in an aggressive consolidation plan, NCNB Corp. and C&S/Sovran Corp. announced last week they would phase out a C&S operations center in Fort Meyers, Fla.

The work will be shifted to an NCNB site in Tampa. Closing the Fort Meyers center will eliminate about 500 jobs, bank officials said.

The move is the first step in eliminating operational redundancies resulting from the banks' merger, which is expected to receive regulatory approval by yearend. The new institution will be called NationsBank.

Efficiency Expected

"The consolidation of two existing operations centers will allow for more efficiency," said R. Eugene Taylor, president of NCNB Florida and newly named president of Nations-Bank, Florida.

Neither bank would estimate the savings from the Florida project.

However, NCNB chairman Hugh L. McColl - who will head the new NationsBank - has placed the overall operational cost reductions from the merger at $350 million.

Given NCNB's aggressive approach to consolidations in the past, consultants and analysts are predicting the bank can complete the overall consolidation in as little as 18 months.

By way of comparison, Fleet/Norstar Financial Corp. estimates it will digest the operations of the Bank of New England in a similar span of time. But other megamergers, like that of Chemical Banking Corp. with Manufacturers Hanover Corp., are expected to take at least three years to complete.

When the move to Tampa is completed - the target is next summer - the facility will house the item processing, customer service, accounting, and central branch administration functions for all of NationsBank Florida.

"We already have a large presence in Tampa and the physical space available to accommodate an expansion which will handle virtually all Florida general bank operations for NationsBank," Mr. Taylor said.

Second Time for C&S

The 500 eliminated positions resulting from the Tampa consolidation are but the first wave of a program that will reduce the combined banks' work force by 9,000 people.

Observers have commented that the impending job cuts are particularly hard on C&S employees, who have already had to sweat through the 1,000 layoffs that resulted from the Citizens & Southern-Sovran Financial Corp. merger last year.

For that reason, executives at both C&S/Sovran and NCNB said they are trying to place as many laid-off employees as possible at other jobs within NationsBank.

In addition, the bank is running outplacement workshops and sponsoring a job posting system that notifies workers of prospective employment outside the bank.

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