Zions Bancorp., still in the midst of regulatory troubles that have held up a cross-town acquisition, reported fourth-quarter net income of $42.5 million, up 42% from the year earlier.
The Salt Lake City banking company said operating cash earnings for 1999 totaled $243.8 million, or $2.84 per share, up 25.4% and 19.8%, respectively, compared with the year earlier. Net income was $194.1 million, or $2.26 per share, up 35% and 29% versus 1998. The 1999 results included $18.5 million, or 22 cents per share, of after-tax, merger-related charges.
Zions has been stymied in trying to close its $5.5 billion purchase of First Security Corp. ever since it was announced June 6. First it jousted with the Justice Department over how much divestiture would be required. This delayed the closing from late November, when it had been initially planned.
Then in late December, the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered Zions to restate its financial results for the past three years, which caused it to miss a Dec. 28 target for closing.
Despite the snags Zions executives say they remain upbeat. The year "capped a decade of impressive performance for our company, although the delay in closing our merger with First Security has been frustrating,'' said Harris Simmons, president and chief executive.
Mr. Simmons said that Zions and First Security expect to restate earnings in a week and that the First Security acquisition would close in March, shortly after a shareholder meeting. The combined company, to be called First Security Corp., would have $40 billion of assets.
Zions and First Security agreed in January to sell 68 branches with about $2.1 billion of deposits and $700 million of loans to another financial institution. This sale is expected to close in the second quarter.