Buffalo-based Marine Midland Banks Inc. posted fourth-quarter net income Tuesday that was 36% higher than the year-earlier period, while Citizens Financial Group Inc. of Providence, R.I., reported a 17.2% profit increase for the period ending Dec. 31.

Both banks credited an increase in loan volume for the results.

Marine Midland, a unit of London-based HSBC Holdings, said earnings for all of last year jumped 32% to $229.3 million.

Tight control over expenses helped the $18.6 billion-asset bank's earnings, said president and chief executive James H. Cleave.

The bank reduced expenses related to staff reductions by 8% from 1993, to $703 million.

The bank also worked out problem loans, Mr. Cleave said. Nonaccruing loans fell 44.2% in the fourth quarter to $190 million, or 1.51% of total loans outstanding.

"We've got to operate this bank with an efficiency ratio of between 50% and 55%," Mr. Cleave said. He did not give a deadline for reducing the current ratio of 63%.

Citizens Financial's earnings were powered by a 50% increase in net interest income to $91.6 million for its fiscal 1995 first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 1994.

The bank, a subsidiary of Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland, saw total loans and leases reach $5.7 billion, a 33% increase over the year- earlier the period.

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