Ten months after he closed one of the blockbuster bank deals of 1997, U.S. Bancorp chief executive officer John F. Grundhofer says the integration with First Bank System is nearly complete.
The Minneapolis banking company this week converted checking accounts in California, Utah, and Nevada to its master system-"the first of the last transitions," Mr. Grundhofer said.
Washington and Idaho will follow soon, and by July 15 Oregon checking accounts will make the switch. That, he said, would bring to 25 the number of systems conversions completed since the former First Bank System bought U.S. Bancorp last Aug. 1.
In an interview during the International Monetary Conference here, Mr. Grundhofer said the transition went smoothly, showing that U.S. Bancorp is a disciplined and effective acquirer. "We're very pleased with our ability to convert," he said, crediting IBM and Andersen Consulting for strong support.
Analyst Michael Mayo of Credit Suisse First Boston agreed that the integration has been a success. "So far it's gone well with very little hoopla," he said. "Management has taken a hands-on approach. They have had strong communication and strong technology in the early going."
With its 1997 acquisition nearly sewn up, U.S. Bancorp has been widely expected to reenter the merger fray. Analysts have said that Wells Fargo & Co. would be a particularly good match.
Mr. Grundhofer declined to comment on the company's merger-and- acquisition prospects and would not discuss Wells Fargo. But he made clear that he is not inclined to sit on the sidelines if he spots an appealing deal.
"You have to be opportunistic in this market-opportunistic but disciplined," Mr. Grundhofer said.
He is watching intently the progress of the planned Citicorp-Travelers merger. "If the laws change, think about the massive opportunities that we never even dreamed about," he said.
Mr. Grundhofer added that in the months ahead, U.S. Bancorp will expand its cross-selling efforts with Piper Jaffray Inc., a Minneapolis brokerage that it bought May 1.
"They can teach us a lot about selling," Mr. Grundhofer said.
Liz Moyer contributed to this article.