Call it the branch sale that wasn't.

Talk was rife late last month that Bank of America Texas was going to sell between 70 and 80 rural branches in Texas to community banks.

Nothing happened.

Bank of America's branch system in Texas, 234 offices strong, is a patchwork of former thrift branches. Like other regionals that bought into Texas in the last five years, B of A wants to focus its resources on the higher-returning urban areas of Dallas, Houston, and so on.

On the other hand, community banks are trying to gain a critical mass in their markets to compete with aggressive banks of similar size as well as the likes of B of A.

"They were gearing up to sell them off," said one source familiar with Bank of America's plans, who asked not to be named. "They had requests for bids out to a number of potential buyers.... They didn't get the kind of bids they were looking for." The branches "aren't big money makers, so it's not surprising."

The source said Bank of America Texas is going to try and pump up the volume in the branches and hopefully sell them down the road to another regional bank that wants marketshare in Texas, possibly Boatman's or Worthen. Randy Hicks, a spokesman for B of A Texas, declined to comment.

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