Snags may delay MNC annual meetingWarning to...


Snags may delay MNC annual meeting

Warning to MNC Financial Inc. shareholders: When you write down the date of the annual meeting, keep an eraser handy.

Delays in preparing the combined proxy statement for the meeting and the proposed sale to North Carolina-based NationsBank Corp. could delay the event from its tentative date of June 3, possibly until June 17.

MNC spokesman Daniel Finney says the delay was due to an exchange of comments about the proxy between MNC and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But there might be another reason. Apparently some large shareholders are questioning whether NationsBank's $15.17 a share offer is good enough, given MNC's health.

The merger requires a two-thirds approval vote. That means two-thirds of the 90.29 million outstanding shares must be voted affirmatively, rather than the usual two-thirds of the shares present at the meeting.

Fidelity Investments of Devonshire, Mass., is the largest MNC shareholder, with about 10 percent of the stock, and reportedly is threatening not to vote. The company won't comment. Mr. Finney, saying he hasn't heard anything about Fidelity's vote, added: "I'll say what [MNC Chairman Alfred] Lerner probably would say, and that is, 'Well, we'll have to wait and see whether they do or they don't.' "

Carrollton Bank ads stress hometown roots

It was only a matter of time before Baltimore-area banks began responding to the invasion by giant NationsBank.

This week, Baltimore's Carrollton Bank, which has seven branches and $200 million in assets, launched an ad campaign with the tag line, "Better. Not Bigger." The print, radio and TV ads were produced by Image Dynamics.

"What we're trying to say is that Carrollton is a Maryland institution, that our roots are in the Baltimore area, and that we're here to serve," said Executive Vice President Dallas Arthur, "and that some of the larger banks that are coming to town may not have as much interest in the community as we do.

"We're not criticizing the other banks," added Mr. Arthur, who has been with the company for one-third of its 90 years. "We're just saying we think we can do a better job."

Reservoir's bridge loan helps firms close deal

The bank credit crunch may be easing, but some nontraditional financiers aren't in the least concerned.

One of them is Reservoir Capital Corp., a 2-year-old Baltimore company that specializes in "factoring" -- loans collateralized by the borrower's accounts receivable. Last week Reservoir finished a deal that helped SuperPower Inc. buy Hyperion Industries Inc., which makes equipment such as transformers. Both companies are based in Watertown, Mass.

Reservoir's part of the roughly $3 million deal was a $500,000 bridge loan to SuperPower, arranged and signed in only four days (ask a bank to match that turnaround).

Reservoir President John Fox worked for Allstate Financial Corp. in Arlington, Va., until 1989, and spent two years as a consultant before starting Reservoir in April 1991.

The company employs about 15 people in five cities and last year made about $40 million in loans, he says.

"We are a bridge for somebody who may have had a bad year," he says, "or who, because banking rules change, is no longer bankable."

RTC seminars aim at small investors

Break out those checkbooks -- the RTC is coming.

That's the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency charged with disposing of the assets of failed savings and loans. Last month, the RTC announced it would launch a new program to sell assets, mostly real estate, to small investors.

That means some parcels could go for as low as $5,000, and not much more than $1 million. In the past, the agency's asset packages were seldom worth less than $5 million -- and usually were worth much more.

This week, the RTC announced a series of seminars around the nation to explain the Small Investor Program. The Baltimore seminar is scheduled for June 15; call the RTC's Atlanta Sales Center at (800) 628-4362.

Layoff alerts issued for First American

Employees of the three First American banks, in Virginia, Washington and Maryland, probably couldn't have gone through a rougher ride than the one they've taken in the last two years, since their parent company's links to the BCCI scandal became known.

Under court order to be sold, the news in February that First Union Corp. of North Carolina would buy the banks for $453 million must have brought some relief to the 3,000 employees.

Imagine their reaction, then, when the banks' parent, First American Bankshares Inc., passed a notice around to every employee last month that they were being given their 60 days' notice of possible layoff.

Spokeswoman Karen Sommer says the acquisition should be completed by the end of June. "[Passing out the notices] was done because we don't know what will fall out, what jobs will be lost, what employees will stay."

"In many ways it's a relief," she added.

Well, let's just say relief is on the way, but has not yet arrived.

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