Closely held International Bancshares in Laredo, Tex., may use its new stock listing on Nasdaq to pay for acquisitions, according to Dennis E. Nixon, its chief executive officer.

The $4.5 billion-asset banking company began listing its stock on Nasdaq last week.

Mr. Nixon described the move as an attempt to build stature. "It's one of those profile issues," he said.

"It relates to our public standing in Texas and nationally."

International Bancshares is 50% owned by its founder's family, management, and directors. Another 40% of the company is owned by about 200 Laredo-area investors, Mr. Nixon said.

The remaining 10% of the company's stock is thinly traded.

The largest shareholder is Alicia M. Sanchez, who holds an 18.5% stake.

Ms. Sanchez is the widow of Antonio R. Sanchez Sr., who founded the bank in 1966. Mr. Sanchez died in 1993.

The move to Nasdaq gives International Bancshares' owners more liquidity, and could also provide a way for it to pay for acquisitions. Mr. Nixon said he wants to become a more active acquirer.

Past acquisitions-the bank made one last year-have been paid for in cash.

That probably will not change soon, Mr. Nixon said, because his primary shareholders are not ready to dilute their ownership.

But he said the company may use stock as currency in future deals. "It's just another tool in our tool chest if we want to use it."

One of International Bancshares' biggest competitors is Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc., a $5.2 billion-asset company based in San Antonio that moved its stock listing from Nasdaq to the New York Stock Exchange last year.

Mr. Nixon said the prestige thatCullen/Frost gained from its NYSE listing motivated his company to seek the Nasdaq listing.

Mr. Nixon said he believes that recent mergers using stock swaps, including Cullen/Frost's $254 million deal for Overton Bancshares of Fort Worth, will drive up the cost of cash acquisitions.

Even if International Bancshares decides to use its stock for mergers, it may find that sellers are not interested.

BOK Financial Corp. of Tulsa, Okla., said recently that it was unsuccessful in using its stock in acquisition bids because sellers wanted more liquidity.

BOK, which has $5.4 billion of assets, is 75%-owned by George B. Kaiser, a Tulsa oil executive.

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