Big thrifts got much bigger last year, even as the industry's assets and deposits shrank, according to an American Banker survey.

Assets at the 10 largest thrifts totaled $296.3 billion at yearend, a 51% increase from 1996. (See tables starting on page 12.) Their share of industry assets rose to 29%, from 19%. Competition from outside the industry is driving the consolidation, said analyst Charlotte Chamberlain of Jefferies & Co., Los Angeles. Thrifts "are consolidating for economies of scale on both the lending and deposit (sides) and to better arm themselves against the silver bullet of Microsoft."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.