Sale Nears for Houston Thrift

DALLAS -- First Interstate Bank of Texas and NCNB Texas National Bank were preparing late Friday to buy parts of the failed Commonwealth Federal Savings Association of Houston.

The thrift held $1.4 billion of deposits, 41 branches and roughly $850 million of assets. It was being sold by the Resolution Trust Corp..

The expected deal marks the first sizable acquisition by First Interstate Texas, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based First Interstate Bancorp. The unit has $5 billion in assets.

Formerly Allied Bancshares Inc., First Interstate Texas racked up millions of losses after it was acquired in 1988, but it returned to profitability last year. Its first-quarter earnings of $23.7 million represented a 34.86% annualized return on average equity.

NCNB Texas, a unit of NCNB Corp., Charlotte, N.C., already is the largest banking company in Texas with $33 billion in assets.

Although Bank of America Corp. had been among the potential bidders for Commonwealth, the San Francisco-based institution is said to be eyeing the failed Southwest Federal Savings Association.

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