Wachovia Corp. is moving its international banking efforts into high gear.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based regional bank plans to this year expand in London, where it has maintained a representative office since the 1970s. In addition, said Hugh M. Durden, president in charge of corporate banking, Wachovia will this year offer an integrated payments and collections network for companies doing business in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The bank is also increasing the array of products and services it can offer.

"We're looking at products like cash management, global payments and collections, and at a longer list of places where we can provide direct services," Mr. Durden disclosed.

The $47 billion-asset bank last week set up an Atlanta-based global services division to boost international banking services to domestic and multinational corporations.

John M. Chalk, executive vice president at Wachovia Corporate Services Atlanta, will head the unit, which puts international operations under a single roof and adds on a separate international sales team. The division will report to Wachovia Corporate Services Inc., Wachovia's Atlanta-based wholesale-banking unit.

"The key economic reality of the '90s and beyond is the growth of global commerce and the growing participation of U.S. and multinational companies in that commerce," Mr. Durden said.

This, he added, is "kicking off a longer and longer list of products and services needed by a larger number of companies."

Wachovia, long reluctant to expand international operations, has taken a 180-degree turn. As part of this effort, the bank last month set up a strategic alliance with London-based HSBC Holdings PLC to jointly market trade-finance, cash-management, and corporate-banking services.

A month earlier, Wachovia joined together with a Brazilian finance company to purchase $100 million-asset Banco Portugues do Atlantic-Brazil SA as part of a bid to develop banking services for corporate customers in Brazil.

Separately, NationsBank has promoted Jorge Benitez, its top correspondent banker for South America, to develop banking business with financial institutions in Latin American and the Caribbean.

The bank has recently embarked on a push to expand its trade-finance and corporate-banking services, especially in Latin America. The bank two years ago opened a subsidiary in Mexico.

Mr. Benitez said he will mainly focus on developing business with U.S. and Latin American banks and on domestic corporate customers with international operations.

In a related effort to develop corporate-banking business in Latin America, NationsBank recently hired Luiz Barbosa from SBC Warburg in Brazil. Mr. Barbosa will move to NationsBank headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., where he will spearhead an effort to expand corporate-banking and capital-markets activities on behalf of U.S. multinationals.

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