THE WEST: BankAmerica Corp., San Francisco, with $197.2 billion in assets, dominates the region and is always cited as a top player in the race to establish a nationwide branch banking network. It has targeted some regions as high priority but won't say which.
First Interstate Bancorp of Los Angeles, with $53.5 billion in assets, has begun acquiring aggressively in the past 18 months, but exclusively smaller fill-ins within its 13-state western territory. It has specifically targeted California, Texas, and Washington State for expansion.
Wells Fargo & Co., San Francisco, with $52.1 billion in assets, has had a hard time finding deals at the right price. It has attempted several times to acquire in states such as Texas and Arizona. It is an attractive target but is probably immune from takeover.
U.S. Bancorp of Portland, Ore., with $21 billion in assets, is undoubtedly the most vulnerable major western bank company and one of the most attractive.
West One Bancorp, Boise, Idaho, with assets of $7.8 billion, is a frequent subject of takeover speculation because of its attractive franchise in the fast-growing Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Possible buyers are Norwest Corp. or First Bank System Inc., both of Minneapolis.
First Security, Salt Lake City, with assets of $10.8 billion, is one of the most active acquirers of community banks. It could be attractive to Banc One, Norwest, or First Bank System, but seems focused on its own expansion rather than on a combination with a larger partner.
Bancorp Hawaii, with $12.9 billion in assets, and First Hawaiian Inc., with $7.2 billion, will probably be the most dramatically affected by a change in federal law. The opening of the Hawaiian bank market will put the state's two major independent banks at a strategic crossroads, forcing them to develop independent strategies or look for buyers.
BankAmerica, already present in Hawaii via a thrift subsidiary, may want to expand there.
THE MIDWEST: Interstate banking is not expected to have a profound impact on the Midwest because it has long been accessible to banks on both coasts.
But one intriguing avenue will be opened between the Midwest and the Southeast, and merger traffic is possible in both directions. NationsBank Corp., Charlotte, N.C., has made no secret of its desire to acquire in the Midwest, and sources say First Union Corp. could make a move as well.
Going the other direction, Banc One Corp., Columbus. Ohio, and Norwest Corp., Minneapolis, are seen as strong contenders to enter the Southeast.
"Banc One wasn't afraid to look in Texas and New England, and I do not question that it will scout in the Southeast when full interstate banking becomes a reality," said Kenneth Puglisi, head of banking research at Sandler O'Neill LP, New York.
Among the Midwest banks viewed as potential targets are First Chicago Corp., First of America Bank Corp., Kalamazoo, Mich., and Michigan National Corp., Farmingon Hills. However, managers of all three institutions have expressed a strong commitment to independence.
Missouri offers some of the region's best opportunities. The three big targets are all in St. Louis. The most talked about is Boatmen's Bancshares, the $27 billion-asset giant that now spans nine states to the Southwest. Next is Mercantile Bancorp, which is snapping up smaller independents on its own. Third, Magna Group Inc. is a favorite because of its bite size $4 billion in assets.
MIDDLE ATLANTIC REGION: If Congress passes the interstate banking law, as it is expected to do some time this summer, small Virginia banks could be dinner for Pennsylvania behemoths.
"First Virginia and Central Fidelity, in my mind, would likely be the first candidates," said Anthony Davis, an analyst at Dean Witter Reynolds.
Both Falls Church-based First Virginia and Richmond-based Central Fidelity have "good representation throughout the state" and their "valuations are attractive," he said.
Who from the Middle Atlantic states are licking their chops? Pittsburgh-based Mellon Bank Corp., Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank Corp., and Philadelphia-based CoreStates Financial Corp. are likely candidates.
CoreStates and Mellon may also build on recent acquisitions of small New Jersey Banks, while First Fidelity Bancorp. and National Westminster Bank are looking to increase their market share. Any bank with less than $10 billion in assets is vulnerable.
NEW ENGLAND: Even though New England states already allow national interstate
banking, an imminent change in federal law could spur even more mergers than have already taken place.
New England will most likely follow a national trend of mergers, probably between equals, analysts say.
Boston-based BayBanks Inc. and Hartford-and Boston-based Shawmut National Corp. will be two to watch. It's possible that both will be acquired or merge with each other.
Analysts say banks with less than $5 billion in assets should watch out for larger competitors. The big banks most likely to expand are Providence, R.I.-based Fleet Financial Group Inc. and Bank of Boston' Corp.
SOUTHWEST: Fourth Financial Corp., Wichita, Kan., is the region's best buy. With Bank IV branches dominating Kansas and soon to be No. 1 in Oklahoma, analysts say the company would be a nice fit with Minneapolis banks in particular.
In Texas, the choicest independents are Cullen/Frost Bankers, whose San Antonio base has linked its future to free trade with Mexico. Houston-based Bank United, a remnant of failed Texas thrifts, is an on-again, off again target of speculation. Possible buyers for either: any of the five major players already in the state, especially asset-hungry BankAmerica Corp.
In Oklahoma, the nation's second-most-fragmented banking market, Tulsa-based Bank of Oklahoma is seen as the plum. --John Racine
THE SOUTHEAST: The impact of national interstate banking on the Southeast would be felt most strongly in Florida and Georgia. The prize acquisition candidate in the region is Barnett Banks Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., which has the dominant market share in Florida. Any number of out-of-region acquirers, such as Banc One Corp., would love to buy Barnett. There are also a few sizable thrifts left, including Home Savings Bank, Hollywood, and Coral Gables Fedcorp.
Virginia's banking market is less consolidated than Florida's, so there are more targets. The best and largest branch network belongs to Crestar Financial Corp., Richmond. Other possibilities are Signet Banking Corp,, known for its wildly successful credit card program, and Central Fidelity Banks Inc., a medium-size bank.
Georgia has only one real target, Bank South Corp., Atlanta, though some out-of-state acquirers might take a look at First National Bancorp of Gainesville, which has a nice franchise in northern Georgia.
When national interstate banking is passed, analysts will probably expect most of the action to occur in Virginia, if Barnett and Bank South carry through on their threats to fight for independence.