Would-be buyers of First American Bankshares Inc. and Howard Savings Bank are lining up advisers.

Two Virginia bank companies, Signet Banking Corp. and Crestar Financial Corp., are eyeing First American, the Washington-based bank illegally acquired by the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Signet has hired J. P. Morgan & Co. for advice, while Crestar has retained Morgan Stanley, sources said.

Signet and Crestar will probably face plenty of competition: First Union Corp. chairman Edward Crutchfield has said he's interested in looking at First American, and a number of non-bank investors are also eyeballing the deal.

First American circulated an offering memorandum to about 25 banks, and initial indications of interest - complete with a price tag - are due Friday.

Further north, First Fidelity Bancorp. has retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. to help it evaluate New Jersey-based Howard, a source said. A First Fidelity spokesman declined to comment. Howard announced two weeks ago that it could not meet its capital requirements.

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