Mergers and acquisitions resulted in significant deposit and asset growth at some of the biggest U.S. commercial banks last year.

Thanks to post-merger consolidations, deposits almost doubled at Chase Manhattan Bank and Wells Fargo Bank, which jumped to second and fourth on the American Banker Top 300 list, from third and seventh in 1995.

Among other Top 20 banks-holding companies were not covered in this survey-reorganizations caused three-digit percentage increases at Fleet Financial Corp.'s subsidiaries in Massachusetts and New Jersey, at Barnett Banks Inc.'s flagship unit in Jacksonville, Fla., and CoreStates Bank in Philadelphia.

The yearend American Banker tally-see tables beginning on page 14-showed the Top 300 had $2.3 billion of deposits, 71.4% of the national commercial bank total. The dollar amount was up 9.5% in 1996, and the concentration ratio rose from 68.8%.

Assets at all commercial banks totaled $4.6 trillion, up 6.2%. The top 300 held 75.7%, up from 73.4% at the end of 1995.

"Merger integration and, to some extent, interstate branching are producing natural growth in concentration of assets and deposits," said Peter Davis, a partner at Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc. in New York.

Meanwhile, the number of banks continued to dwindle. At 9,528 on Dec. 31, it was down 4% from yearend 1995 and 34% from 1984.

"The desire to get bigger has been a very powerful dynamic over the last few years," Mr. Davis said. "But it's going to be a long, slow burn in terms of its play-out."

Citibank held its lead among individual banks, with deposit growth of 9.3%, to $171.7 billion.

Chase Manhattan, the lead bank of the biggest holding company, had deposit growth of 88%, to $160.2 billion, as a result of its merger with Chemical Bank.

Chase leapfrogged over No. 3 Bank of America, which had deposit growth of 10%, to $131.2 billion.

Fleet Bank of Massachusetts shot from 90th to 10th place after its integration with Shawmut Bank. Deposits were up 507% to $35.2 billion.

Due to its merger with National Westminster Bank USA, the New Jersey- based Fleet susidiary rose to 24th from 270th, Deposits grew 1,369% to $19.5 billion.

Barnett Bank, Jacksonville, Fla., vaulted from 169th in the survey to 13th, with deposits of $33.6 billion, a 1,176% increase. That was due to a reorganization of operating units rather than an acquisition.

Wells Fargo Bank's deposits were up 88% to $75.8 billion, after its merger with First Interstate Bank of Los Angeles.

Growth in total assets followed a pattern similar to deposits, but Chase was ahead of Citibank with $272.4 billion, up 85%. Citibank's $241 billion was up 9.6%.

Bank of America came in third, with $180.5 billion of assets, up 10.4%. Wells Fargo jumped to fourth from ninth, with assets rising 101% to $99.2 billion.

Fleet Bank went to 13th from 97th. It now has $46.6 billion of assets, a 536% increase. Barnett leapt from 187th to 17th, with $39.2 billion of assets, up 1,050%.

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