Maryland consumer depositors likely will be the major beneficiaries if Chase Manhattan Bank and other big New York institutions set up shop in the state, area bankers said yesterday.
As a result of the massive crisis in Maryland's state-chartered, privately insured savings and loan industry, Maryland has invited big out-of-state banks to buy seriously ailing institutions and convert them to commercial banks.
Chase Manhattan Corp., which owns the nation's third-largest bank, is expected to take over Baltimore's seriously ailing Merritt Commercial Savings and Loan as well as two smaller institutions that do not have the resources to qualify for federal deposit insurance.
When the deal is done, probably next month, Chase will have 13 banking offices around the state of Maryland. Big banks always have had the ability to make loans anywhere they wanted, but banking laws in general have precluded them from accepting deposits anywhere but their home states.
Barriers to so-called interstate banking have been slowly eroding around the country. But as a result of the near collapse of Maryland's privately insured savings and loan industry, interstate banking is a reality in Maryland.
There are three other seriously wounded savings and loans in Maryland -- First Maryland, Community and Old Court -- that the state would like to sell to prosperous bank companies. Citicorp, the nation's biggest bank company, will be able to establish a full-service bank under another avenue created last spring, but closed to other banks this week at the same time that Maryland legislators voted to allow big banks to enter the state by purchasing ailing savings and loans.
"Chase's objective clearly is to get consumer deposits," according to a top executive of a major Washington bank. "They're going to provide Maryland banks a hell of a lot of competition."
It may take a while before Maryland banks feel the pressure of Chase's presence, Washington and Maryland bankers said. The bank executives said that Chase will have to spend a lot of time sorting out the bad loans at the three savings and loans -- which Chase officials estimate total about $125 million, most of them at Merritt.
Chase also will have to train savings and loan employes in the ways of commercial banking and probably will try to hire new lending officers and other executives familiar with the banking and business climate in Maryland. Maryland bankers said their more pressing concern is a Chase raid on their banking talent, not a Chase campaign to attract their deposits.
"They'll probably bring in one fellow from New York and recruit the rest of their executives from their competition," according to a top executive at a major Maryland bank. "It's going to be hard to take business away from us. But it will be a lot easier for them to get fellows familiar with the territory."
But the major attraction for Chase, Citicorp and other major banks is the ability to tap a new source of consumer deposits. These banks already are major lenders to Washington area businesses and mortgage customers and have blanketed the area with credit cards.
To persuade consumers to move their deposits, area bankers expect Chase and any other bank that sets up shop in Maryland to bid heavily for consumer business by paying higher rates on deposits and offering lower rates on consumer loans. "It may not come tomorrow, it probably won't come for months, but at some point it will come," said a top official of a Washington bank.
Michael F. Ryan, president of Washington's NS&T Bank and president of the D.C. Bankers Association, said the emergence of big New York banks in neighboring Maryland undoubtedly will put added pressure on District banks as well. Mayor Marion Barry wants to allow big banks to do business in Washington, in return for promises from those banks to make loans to depressed areas of the city and establish banking offices in areas shunned by Washington banks.