Wall Street continues to roll out rights offerings to shareholders for weak banking companies.

The latest is Peoples Heritage Financial Group, a $2.3 billion-asset banking company based in Portland, Maine. It plans to raise about $30 million this month through a rights offering.

Also this year, Equimark Corp., Pittsburgh, and Citizens First Bancorp, Glen Rock, N.J., increased its capital by selling stock at a discount to current shareholders, for a total of more than $100 million.

Hibernia Corp., New Orleans, also plans a rights offering, to raise about $80 million.

Aiming for FDIC's Targets

Rights offerings give shareholders a chance to maintain their stakes in companies that are forced to issue large amounts of new shares to raise capital.

Peter Verrill, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Peoples, said its offering was aimed at increasing the leverage capital ratio of the company's principal bank, Peoples Heritage Bank, above regulatory targets set in a June 1991 cease-and-desist order.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. set targets of 5% for June 30, 1992, and 6% by June 30, 1993. The bank missed its 1992 target, with a leverage capital ratio of 4.2% at June 30. The ratio had risen to 4.5% by the end of the third quarter.

The FDIC took no further action after Peoples failed to meet the target. But according to statements filed by Peoples, the FDIC "is authorized to appoint itself as a conservator or receiver of any insured state depository institution if, among other things, the institution is in an unsafe or unsound condition to transact business, including substantially insufficient capital."

Peoples Financial has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue 5.57 million shares at $5.75 each. The company has about 8.3 million shares of common stock outstanding, Mr. Verrill said.

"It is our hope to stick to that $5.75 price," said Mr. Verrill, who added that the company could change the price by amending its filing.

In the last 52 weeks, Peoples stock has traded from a low of $2 a share to a high of $8.75. The stock was trading around $6.625 before the Oct. 13 filing for the rights offering and was at $5.875 late Monday.

After the SEC completes its review of the registration, Peoples plans to ask investors to act as standby buyers in the rights offering, said Mr. Verrill.

Depending on the amount of stock that standby purchasers agree to buy, Peoples may also tap Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. to underwrite a part of the offering, said Mr. Verrill. Keefe is also adviser to Peoples for the offering.

Peoples, Maine's largest independent banking company, has been struggling to recover from bad commercial real estate loans. In the third quarter, it reported a $339,000 profit, its first black ink in more than a year.

"It looks like they're going to be another New England survivor," said Lloyd Widom, banking analyst at Prudential Securities.

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