Allied Irish Bank's U.S. banking company is ditching its state-related name and planning a multistate expansion drive.
On June 28, First Maryland Corp. will become Allfirst Financial Inc., a combination of Allied and First National. And First Maryland's branches, which until recently operated under seven bank charters, will be Allfirst Bank branches.
Three hundred branches in southern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia will be affected.
The seven banks-First National Bank of Maryland and six smaller institutions-have already been merged into a single charter under a temporary name.
"This is a statement recognizing that First Maryland Bancorp is a regional banking company that operates in multiple marketplaces," said Frank P. Bramble, chief executive.
The name change, including replacement of all the signs, will cost $8 million to $12 million, First Maryland said.
The company also unveiled a new logo-an open door with light coming in- and new corporate colors: purple and orange.
First Maryland has $18.3 billion of assets; Dublin-based Allied Irish has $63 billion in all.
Mr. Bramble said First Maryland is "very interested" in buying banks to fill in holes in its existing markets, as well as expanding into West Virginia to the west, Virginia to the south, and New Jersey to the north.
"We clearly have an active acquisition strategy," he said. "It is our stated intention over time for Allfirst to be in the top three in all of the markets in our region."
The name change has been discussed since 1997, when First Maryland bought Dauphin Deposit Corp. in Harrisburg, Pa. That deal added $6 billion of assets and doubled First Maryland's bank subsidiary count.
The holding company has since consolidated the back office and computer systems of the banks and moved them all under one Maryland charter. The new name "represents the final step in this consolidation," Mr. Bramble said.
The company estimates its expenses will shrink by about 2.5% in 1999 because of the consolidation. They had been growing 3% a year in recent years.
First Maryland joins a list of midsize companies that are combining multiple charters under one brand. For example, Keystone Financial Inc. of Harrisburg is merging its seven banks into Keystone Bank, and Old National Bancorp in Evansville, Ind., is fusing its 21 banks in three states.
First Maryland will be casting aside almost 200 years of history in some markets. First National Bank of Maryland was founded in 1806. Other subsidiaries, including York Bank and Dauphin Deposit Bank and Trust Co., were formed before the Civil War.
"There have been generations of customers who have known us by those names," said Susan C. Keating, president and chief operating officer. "But we intend to make it clear that the service is not changing, only the name."