Scads of Acquisitions Seen by '96

WASHINGTON - One bank in six with at least $50 million in assets expects to be acquired over the next five years, according to a survey by the accounting firm Grant Thornton.

Top executives of 17% of the banks said they expected to be acquired by 1996, while 25% thought they would be acquirers. But the remaining 58% said their institutions would "remain independent" for the next five years.

Brake on Enthusiasm

The responses came from officials of 632 of the 6,054 commercial banks with assets of $50 million or more.

"Some banks may be overestimating their chances for survival as independent entities," said Norman Katz, Grant Thornton's partner in charge of the study. "While the consolidation rate expected by bankers is consistent with recent trends, it may be low for the future, given the prospects for bank reform."

The survey also revealed that bankers view the right to sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and insurance as the greatest opportunity among proposed reforms. They perceive limits on deposit insurance as the greatest threat to profitability and survival.

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