Park National Corp. of Newark, Ohio, has purchased Scope Leasing a Columbus-based aircraft leasing company.

The $1.3 billion-asset bank company acquired Scope Leasing this month for 52,281 shares of Park National common stock with an approximate market value of $3.8 million.

Scope's primary market segment is new and used high-performance single-engine aircraft through cabin-class piston and turbo prop twins generally valued under $1 million.

"The uniqueness is that it's not one of those traditional activities for a bank holding company," said David L. Trautman, vice president of Park National Bank. But "I don't think it's unique that banks are trying to find ways to forge expertise in particular niches."

Henry Hauser, vice president of investments in the Columbus office of McDonald & Co. Securities, which makes a market in Park National's stock, said the acquisition makes sense.

"When they find a market where there's relatively little competition for the high-quality credits, they'll move in there," Mr. Hauser said.

The venture has two main risks, Mr. Trautman said. First, Park National will now own a company that leases planes to small corporations, unincorporated businesses, and professionals nationwide. Park National conducts business in central Ohio. It owns banks in Newark, Lancaster, and Mansfield, and it also operates Mutual Federal Savings Bank in Zanesville.

Second, Park National employees aren't familiar with the aircraft industry, he said. However, $15 million-asset Scope Leasing will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Park National Bank, retaining its name and the expertise of three existing employees.

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