Troubled times may have hit the North Pole.

A man dressed as Santa Claus held up a branch of Bank of Commerce, Idaho Falls, last week and got away with an undisclosed amount of money. No one was hurt.

Julian G. Cowley, president of the $292 million-asset bank, said the yuletide heist has created a lot of humor in town.

"The police told me they can't believe how many phone calls they have gotten from people saying, 'I just saw Santa at the mall; maybe you should go arrest him.'"

A Florida community bank may have a new advertising slogan once NationsBank Corp. closes its deal to buy Barnett Banks.

Founded in 1877, Barnett has held the title as Florida's oldest bank, but that distinction would move to Quincy (Fla.) State Bank if NationsBank collapses Barnett's charter, according to a study by Bauer Financial Reports in Coral Gables, Fla.

Quincy State, founded in 1889, has long marketed itself as Florida's first state-chartered bank, but the $100 million-asset bank may change its slogan to recognize the "state's oldest" title, said W.C. "Bud" Branson, president of Quincy State Bank.

Mr. Branson said Quincy State has no plans to give up its charter, even though Synovus Financial Corp. of Columbus, Ga., owns it.

"The holding company is extremely decentralized," he said. "I suspect as long as Synovus owns us, it will stay the same."

A Connecticut community banker waited until he was on television to announce plans to open a branch.

Mark E. Macomber announced Nov. 13 on a local cable show, "The Commercial Record," that his Litchfield Bancorp hoped to open its third full-service branch, in nearby Watertown, in January

State Banking Commissioner John P. Burke was also a guest on the show, but Mr. Macomber, president and chief executive officer of the $105 million-asset thrift, isn't fooling himself about the audience they reached.

"I think we came on opposite 'Seinfeld,'" he said, "so I am not sure how deep the viewership was."

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