Union Planters Corp. will take nearly $40 million in special after-tax charges during the next few quarters to cover both internal restructuring and expenses related to its acquisition of Grenada Sunburst System Corp.

Memphis-based Union Planters made the announcement late Wednesday, leaving analysts scrambling at week's end to revise their earnings estimates. The timing of the charges depends on whether Union Planters is able to complete the Grenada Sunburst acquisition in the fourth quarter.

"If the merger closes in the fourth quarter, then the earnings of the two companies will get pooled and we would use up most of that quarter's operating earnings in these one-time charges," said Jack W. Parker, Union Planters' chief financial officer.

Morgan Keegan analyst Peter Tuz said a fourth-quarter closing of the Grenada Sunburst deal could drop Union Planters' 1994 earnings per share to about $1.50. Mr. Tuz's current estimate is $2.75 a share.

Henry J. Coffey Jr., with J.C. Bradford & Co., said the charges reflected Union Planters' traditional balance-sheet conservatism. "The company has a history of building reserves when required, to address severance issues and restructuring challenges. So it's not surprising they would push ahead and recognize as many of the related charges as possible," he said.

Mr. Parker said the charges would cover planned productivity improvements at both Union Planters and Grenada Sunburst, as well as cost cutting.

The charges include:

* Between $18 million and $27 million after-tax to cover early retirement and separation programs at the two banks. Union Planters will reduce its 3,300-person staff by 10%. Union Planters also said it would take between $3 million and $6 million of this charge, covering its own cost cutting, in the fourth quarter regardless of whether Grenada Sunburst is acquired then.

* Between $7 million and $9 million after tax to cover a fourth-quarter marketing program designed to boost loan volume and build account relationships.

* A charge of $4.5 million to be taken in the third quarter to cover losses on the sale of $425 million in investment securities.

* Also in the third quarter, a $1.8 million after-tax charge to cover Union Planters' recent acquisition of two community banks.

Union Planters, with $7.5 billion of assets, agreed to purchase $2.5 billion-asset Grenada Sunburst, the largest acquisition in its history. on July 1.

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