PNC Bank Corp. will add as many as 40 Hilliard-Lyons Inc. branch offices over the next three years, company officials said.

The expansion is part of PNC's strategy to allow its Louisville, Ky.- based securities unit to manage the banking company's high-net-worth brokerage business.

Hilliard-Lyons, which PNC of Pittsburgh acquired Dec. 1 for $275 million, has 85 offices and 550 brokers in 13 states.

PNC also plans to put the Hilliard-Lyons name on four large investment advisory offices, in Cincinnati, Erie, Pa., Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. New signs will go up in those offices April 26, though brokers will begin identifying themselves to customers as employees of Hilliard-Lyons as early as next week. About 100 PNC brokerage employees will become part of Hilliard-Lyons.

PNC plans to open more than 20 Hilliard-Lyons offices in its banking markets in Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Up to 20 more could be opened in other states. PNC Brokerage will continue to handle lower-end retail accounts.

James Stuckert, Hilliard-Lyons' chief executive officer, said the company hopes to draw on PNC's resources while maintaining the nimble, entrepreneurial spirit of a smaller company. He claimed the cultural issues that plagued other bank-investment firm mergers will not be a problem at PNC.

In fact, Mr. Stuckert said he turned down higher bids by two other companies that wanted to buy his brokerage because he believed the cultural issues were too great. He did not identify the other suitors.

Moreover, Mr. Stuckert said the company would take advantage of fallout from other brokerage mergers and of companies that have not beefed up technology.

"There's a lot of turmoil in the industry," Mr. Stuckert said. "There are those people who have not paid the price and stayed with the times."

His words were echoed by Thomas K. Whitford, the CEO of PNC Advisors, which includes Hilliard-Lyons.

"Jim and I are committed to making this the best bank-brokerage merger," Mr. Whitford said.

The company will promote the new brand as "Hilliard-Lyons, a PNC company," to help launch the broker in the company's banking markets.

Henry Dickson, an analyst with Salomon Smith Barney praised PNC's plans, but said the bank will have to prove itself.

"I think there's a lot of potential for these bank-broker combinations, but the (challenge) is giving the customers what they want," Mr. Dickson said.

Referring to the size of $77 billion-asset PNC's acquisition, Mr. Dickson said, "It's not so big that's its overwhelming, but it's a serious size."

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.