Quinlan starts all over at his specialtyWhen...


Quinlan starts all over at his specialty

When Robert Quinlan was at Equitable Trust Co., he found a line of business that no other bank in town was handling: freight management services.

Equitable worked with, and then bought, a New Jersey company that helped manufacturers negotiate shipping rates, audit shipping bills and handle the other chores involved in shipping goods. Equitable's job was to help coordinate the shippers' payments to carriers.

But after it acquired Equitable, MNC Financial Inc.'s problems forced it to sell the freight business.

Now Mr. Quinlan is Provident Bank of Maryland's managing director for marketing, and he's starting from scratch in the freight management business. Provident has announced a joint venture with a Glen Burnie company called Tran Source Inc.

Tran Source will continue to provide rate negotiations, warehouse selection, pre- and post-billing audits, and claims and damage control services for its 500 or so North American customers. Provident will take charge of the shipping payments for Tran Source's clients, provide more financial stability to the venture and help Tran Source with marketing.

The move makes sense for two basic reasons, Mr. Quinlan says. It gives Provident another source of fee income, and it immediately opens the door to some 500 manufacturers around the nation.

Banks are scrambling to retain CD clients

April is CD month for the nation's banks. Florida-based Bank Rate Monitor estimates that as much as $110 billion in bank certificate of deposit money will come due next month.

But much of that money could be shifted to mutual fund companies, as bank depositors have done since rates started their slide two years ago. So banks are scrambling to retain the money, attract more from bank competitors, or nudge depositors into bank-offered mutual funds.

"We're alerting our CD customers that are coming due that we do have alternatives," said James Fulcher, vice president for branch administration at Signet Bank/Maryland. He said branch managers are calling on customers with substantial CD balances, and sometimes setting up appointments with representatives of the Signet Financial Services division, which markets mutual funds and annuities.

Signet will see about 30 percent more CD rollovers in April than in an average month. There are several good reasons: April 15 is the deadline to invest in individual retirement accounts for the previous year; many early tax filers receive their refunds around April; and April falls six months after October, the month the government eliminated bank deposit rate ceilings.

The Bank of Baltimore two weeks ago reintroduced a six-month CD that allows customers to choose between the new rates, or their existing rate. Ads tout both that product and an 18-month "adjustable CD."

"Clearly the next three months will be the biggest months of the year for us," said Senior Vice President Stewart McEntee.

RTC master contract includes Clark Melvin

The nation's failed savings and loans did more than invest in shaky real estate deals. They started subsidiaries and bought into outside businesses, too. Now the Resolution Trust Corp. finds itself in the mergers and acquisitions game. Or more accurately, it has chosen nine companies nationwide to play the game for it, including Annapolis-based Clark Melvin Securities Corp.

The contract gives Clark Melvin the chance to bid on the valuation, marketing and sale of some of the roughly 2,500 subsidiaries, such as mortgage servicing companies and title companies of failed thrifts in the RTC's Newport Beach, Calif., region. A similar process is under way in the RTC's Atlanta region, and the program could go nationwide.

Earl De Maris, who heads Clark Melvin's corporate finance division, known as Perkins De Maris, said the details on the contract won't come out until later this spring, when the RTC holds a briefing for the nine investment banking firms.

Although the RTC has been selling foreclosed businesses for some time, this is the first master contract it has let. By making the list, Clark Melvin is virtually assured of a hefty chunk of investment banking business, although Mr. De Maris said, "At this point, we don't know what the volume will be."

MNC's Ferrell leaves as takeover nears

One of Ralph H. Ferrell III's first banking jobs was with a little Charlotte, N.C., outfit called North Carolina National Bank. He later became president and CEO of Piedmont Bank & Trust in Charlotte, then executive vice president of Baltimore's Equitable Bancorporation, and finally executive vice president and chief credit officer of MNC Financial after the merger.

Now that his former employer -- now known as NationsBank Corp. -- is waiting to take over MNC, Mr. Ferrell has decided to cut loose and pursue other business interests.

In a written statement, he said his 26 years of banking work, and his role at MNC, would help him find another job in the industry. Frank Bramble, the banking company's chief executive, said Mr. Ferrell has been an important part of the company's return to profitability, through his work disposing of nonperforming assets.

Could his departure mark the start of executive outflows from MNC as the proposed merger looms? We'll see.

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