First Security Corp., a rapidly growing Utah banking company, plans to enter New Mexico by acquiring First National Financial Corp. for about $193 million in stock.

The deal, First Security's largest acquisition to date, would give the company a strong position in the New Mexico market.

First National, with $1.2 billion in assets and 26 branches, is the third-largest banking company in the state. In Albuquerque, where it is based, the bank ranks second, with 23 branches and a 21% share of deposits, a spokesman said.

First Security, which has $7.9 billion in assets and is based in Salt Lake City, has completed 14 acquisitions since the end of 1989, establishing itself as a powerhouse in the Rocky Mountain region. It now operates in Oregon and Wyoming as well as its core markets of Utah and Idaho.

In addition, the company has two acquisitions pending in Nevada, involving $223 million in assets.

After completing its pending deals, First Security would have about $9.3 billion in assets, which would have ranked it as the nation's 61st-largest bank company at yearend 1992.

The First National purchase would dwarf First Security's other recent acquisitions, which together totaled roughly $1.1 billion in deposits.

Preceded by Boatmen's, B of A

The deal would bring First Security into a state that outperformed national averages in job, and income growth last year, said Spencer F. Eccles, First Security's chairman and chief executive.

First Security is the third major out-of-state banking company to invade New Mexico in the last two years.

St. Louis-based Boatmen's Bancshares Inc. bought Sunwest Financial Services Inc., the state's largest bank company, last year. And BankAmerica Corp. entered the state in 1991 by purchasing two failed thrifts from the federal government.

Maloof Family Owns 70%

First Security's stock was off by $1.125 to $26.25 in late trading Wednesday. First Security has agreed to exchange 1.6696 shares of its stock for each First National share, giving the deal an indicated value of $193 million. The price is a shade under 2.1 times the New Mexico company's book value.

First National stock, though public, is very thinly traded. About 70% of it is held by members of the Maloof family, which owns diversified hotel, brewing, and other business interests in New Mexico.

After sustaining losses in 1990 and 1991 because of credit quality problems, First National returned to profitability last year. Its 1992 earnings of $13.1 million represented a 1.02% return on assets and 16.59% return on equity. For its part, First Security earned $86.6 million in 1992, a 1.20% ROA and 14.12% ROE.

Although the transaction does not offer the savings of an intra-market deal, First Security officials said the company could avoid diluting earnings by trimming back-office and administrative costs, and improving First National's efficiency ratio.

The New Mexico company's ratio of noninterest expenses to revenues is about 70%, while First Security operated at a 61% efficiency ratio in 1992.

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