SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- An aggressive series of mainland acquisitions will push BanPonce Corp. earnings above $80 million in 1992, and close to $100 million in the following year, bank president Richard Carrion said in an interview.

"We will have a much better year in 1992 than last year," he said. "We should be in line with what analysts have been expecting," which is in the $80 million to $85 million net income range.

In 1991, BanPonce and its main subsidiary, Banco Popular, earned $64.6 million. For the first half of 1992, the net was $40.9 million, attributed in part to an improving economy and reduced provisions for loan losses.

"We'd like to reach $100 million by 1993, because that's been our goal for some time," Mr. Carrion said.

|Other Deals Pending'

With its acquisition last month of seven branches of the former American Savings Bank, the bank expanded its New York presence to $1.2 billion in deposits and a total of 28 branches.

"We have a couple of other deals pending, so we expect to end the year with about $1.5 billion in deposits and about 30 branches in the city," Mr. Carrion said.

BanPonce's New York strategy has been to focus on consumer banking, and loans to small and medium-size companies. Last year, the bank backed more than one-third of all U.S. Small Business Administration loans made in the city, the executive said.

"The reasons most banks shy away from these loans is because of the paperwork. We're working on a new way of streamlining the application process, which we should have ready by the fourth quarter," Mr. Carrion said.

50th Largest in U.S.

The bank is Puerto Rico's largest and ranked 50th among U.S. banks at yearend, with $8.1 billion in assets. With acquisitions this year, it is approaching $10 billion in deposits.

Founded when Puerto Rico was still a Spanish colony, the bank will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

An increase in the dividend may also be forthcoming, as the bank has long maintained a policy of paying out about 30% of net earnings to shareholders.

"We have to feel very comfortable about our earnings before we adjust the dividend because we're very conservative," Mr. Carrion said. He declined to say specifically if the dividend would be increased this year.

Besides New York, the bank has entered several mainland markets where large numbers of Puerto Ricans live, including New Jersey, Chicago, and Pennsylvania.

Expansion Plans

BanPonce is also considering bank acquisitions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the eastern Caribbean, he said.

The bank has doubled in size since the mid-1980s through several acquisitions, including the 1990 merger of Banco Popular with its main Puerto Rican rival, Banco de Ponce, and BanPonce's 1991 acquisition of Spring Financial Services Inc., a New Jersey-based consumer finance company.

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