PNC Bank Corp. is offering loans at prime rate for five years and waiving a slew of fees on its checking accounts to get new small business deposits.

The offer is part of a package deal available to businesses in PNC's six-state territory that deposit more than $10,000 before Feb. 28.

"We are trying to make a statement to business customers that we are aggressive in the market," said A.J. Desposito, PNC segment manager for business banking.

Scores of banks promote their small-business loans by direct mail, but such promotions are still rare for checking accounts or certificates of deposit.

"We're looking at building relationships," Mr. Desposito said. "If we get the loan without the deposit, it wouldn't do us a bit of good."

To qualify for PNC's package deal, business owners can divide their $10,000 among certificates of deposit, checking, savings, and money market accounts.

Many bankers have found deposits to bethe most profitable part of a small-business relationship, because no interest is paid on checking accounts.

Intense competition has driven rates down and reduced the profit on small-business loans. At the same time, entrepreneurs often split their deposits among banks and nonbanks.

Besides holding loans at prime for five years and waiving fees on checking accounts or PC banking for 90 days, PNC is offering a certificate of deposit with no penalty for early withdrawal.

The bank's mailing said the discounts on its checking account fees are worth $180 and the free checks and deposit tickets $121.

Charles Wendel, president of New York-based Financial Institutions Consulting, said a packaged set of products could help the bank retain customers.

"Once a customer gets three or four products from one bank, it becomes much harder to switch banks," Mr. Wendel said. "That is when inertia sets in."

Mr. Wendel said PNC's requirement of $10,000 is a reasonable amount for businesses that keep cash reserves in deposit accounts.

"They could just shift it from another bank," he said.

PNC is mailing promotions for its small-business loans, deposit accounts, and computer banking services in envelopes that read: "Sometimes, switching banks is just good business."

"Getting the business is half the job," Mr. Desposito said. "You've got to keep it, and we are going to be working very hard to keep the business."

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