Tuesday, March 30, 1999

INDUSTRY NOTES: BANKING


Repurchase of stock suspended

BY JEFF McKINNEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Oak Hill Financial Inc., in the process of acquiring the parent of Blue Ash Building and Loan in Cincinnati, has suspended indefinitely plans to repurchase some of its common stock.

        The Jackson, Ohio-based thrift will halt a stock buyback it initiated in October to repurchase 175,000 shares. Before the suspension, the company had acquired 36,900 of those shares. Banks undertaking acquisitions often delay stock repurchases until after deals are completed because of accounting issues.

        The stock repurchase halt comes about a month after Oak Hill said it would pay $17.6 million for Towne Financial Corp., parent of Blue Ash Building and Loan. That deal will allow Oak Hill to buy a thrift with $123 million in assets and pick up 10,000 customers at branches in Blue Ash, Amelia, Cherry Grove and Mason. The merger is to close in October.

Firstar VP named to network's board
        Robin Nenninger, a Firstar Bank electronic banking whiz, has been elected to the board of Tyme Inc., one of the nation's largest regional automated-teller machine networks.

        Ms. Nenninger is senior vice president and director of alternative delivery services at Firstar, formerly Star Bank. She has 25 years of banking experience.

        She oversees Firstar's alternative delivery services, including 1,500 Firstar ATMs in several Midwestern states. Her appointment comes after Milwaukee-based Firstar agreed last month to switch its ATMs in Minneapolis and St. Paul to Tyme.

        Tyme, also based in Milwaukee, operates about 13,000 ATMs and point-of-sale terminals for 520 financial institutions in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

Bank system to build homes for low-income
        Charles L. Thiemann, a Cincinnati banker, today in Atlanta will launch a new national homebuilding project for Habitat for Humanity.

        Mr. Thiemann will announce the “1999 House That The Federal Home Loan Banks Built” on behalf of 12 banks nationally in the system.

        The program will be used as a centerpiece to celebrate the banks' 10th anniversary of the Affordable Housing Program (AHP), said Mr. Thiemann, president of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) in Cincinnati. Each of the FHLBs will build a house, including one in Cincinnati.

        Since the FHLB's affordable housing effort began in 1989, $39 million has been used to help build 7,000 homes nationally. That total includes $5.4 million to help build 975 homes in Greater Cincinnati.

Democrats push for compromise
        Democratic leaders are challenging U.S. Senate Republicans to compromise on legislation to lift barriers between banks, securities firms and insurance companies, casting the dispute as a major test of bipartisanship in the new Congress.

        Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., said late last week that community lending requirements for banks must be included or President Clinton will veto the bill.

        Mr. Rubin emphasized the administration's opposition to a Republican bill in the Senate while supporting the dismantling of Depression-era prohibitions against combining banks, insurers and brokerages.

        Backers of the legislation, including Wall Street, banks and insurers, insist it is needed to keep the U.S. financial industry competitive in a global economy. Legislation proposed by both parties would create huge financial “supermarkets,” offering consumers checking accounts, mutual funds, insurance policies and much more.

        Consumer advocates have expressed concern that the measures, by allowing banks, brokerage firms and insurers to merge and get more deeply into each other's businesses, could bring a dangerous concentration of economic power in fewer hands.

       



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