Commercial Credit may leave downtown But company pledges it will stay in state


Commercial Credit Co., the consumer lender that was founded here in 1912, confirmed yesterday that it is exploring the possibility of moving out of downtown Baltimore when its lease expires in June 1993.

"We are examining all the options, but no final decision has been made," said Mary McDermott, vice president of corporate communications for Commercial Credit's New York-based parent company, Primerica Corp.

In 1989, the company sold its headquarters building at 300 St. Paul Place to Fidelity & Deposit Co., but Commercial Credit continues to occupy about 120,000 square feet there.

The options being explored include renegotiating the company's lease, renting space elsewhere or building its own building, Ms. McDermott said. "As to where our offices will be located, they will be in Maryland. It will be within your readership, as Mr. Weill says."

In November 1986, Sanford I. Weill led the successful effort to spin off Commercial Credit as a stockholder-owned company from its previous owner, Control Data Corp.

Using Commercial Credit as a springboard, Mr. Weill acquired Primerica Corp. in December 1988. He has since moved to New York to run Primerica, which operates a variety of financial services in addition to Commercial Credit.

Under his leadership, Commercial Credit abandoned many sideline businesses, including an equipment leasing business and loans to some Third World countries.

Concentrating on its core business -- consumer finance -- has paid off handsomely. Commercial Credit made an after-tax profit of $27 million in 1986; this year, it expects to make $170 million after taxes, Ms. McDermott said.

The company employs about 400 people at its headquarters offices and roughly 4,000 people altogether. It has 722 branch offices in 37 states.

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