The banking industry has come to a meeting of the minds-at least when it comes to ambiance.
On Monday, executives from NationsBank Corp. and BankAmerica Corp. announced their $60 billion merger in a stately banquet room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
At exactly the same time, an entourage from Banc One Corp. and First Chicago NBD Corp. could be found in another room at the Manhattan landmark, unveiling their $30 billion combination.
For an estimated 300 analysts and reporters who attended, the venue was familiar. Banc One and First Chicago occupied the same room that Citicorp and Travelers used just a week before to launch their $70 billion megadeal.
The swank Waldorf has long been favored by royalty, heads of state, and other dignitaries. But the merging bankers cited a far more mundane reason for their hotel choice: It was available.
A Banc One spokesman said First Chicago's investor relations department began calling Manhattan hotels last Wednesday, and the Waldorf was the only one to come back with a proposal.
Monday's announcements turned the main floor of the Park Avenue hotel into a spectacle for tourists awed by news reporters and camera crews racing between conference rooms.
Legions of securities analysts also turned out for the meetings, which kicked off with NationsBank's presentation for Wall Street people at 10 a.m. That meeting was followed by Banc One's analyst presentation and simultaneous press conferences at noon.
Though Banc One's event was in the Waldorf's Empire Room, once the site of a cabaret, NationsBank's presentation had more glitz. The arrival of NationsBank chief executive officer Hugh McColl and his BankAmerica counterpart David Coulter was heralded by a Frank Sinatra tune piped in over a loudspeaker.
"I've got the world on a string," the song went. "What a world, what a life, I'm in love."
NationsBank, which also reported its first-quarter earnings Monday, has long used the hotel for that function. But this last weekend, it was not the only bank with executives on the Waldorf's registry.
Executives from all four merging banks were guests of the hotel for at least part of the weekend. But the two sets of bankers apparently did not socialize. Mr. McColl said he and BankAmerica executives met Sunday night to celebrate in a private room on the fourth floor of the hotel.
Meanwhile, Banc One and First Chicago executives were off to dine at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.