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UPDATE: LaSalle buy could boost local small-biz banking

April 23, 2007

The planned acquisition of LaSalle Bank by Bank of America announced this morning would likely mean an expansion of small-business lending in Indianapolis, said a banker who competes in the market.

Jim Young, president and CEO of Indiana Business Bank, said Bank of America would build on the foothold established in Indianapolis by Chicago-based LaSalle.

“I would expect BOA to come to a (market) like Indianapolis and really, really fill out what LaSalle has started here,” Young said. “I don’t think Bank of America does anything in a small way.”

From its local offices downtown and in Carmel, LaSalle focuses on upper-middle market loans of about $100 million and above, Young said.

Bank of America helped pioneer the centralization of small-business underwriting, Young noted. As a result, the Charlotte, N.C., bank made underwriting so efficient that small loans were pushed into branch offices and handled alongside customers buying boats and other consumer goods.

That suggests Bank of America will scour the Indianapolis market for loans as small as $50,000, Young said.

LaSalle Bank will be spun off by its Dutch Parent, ABN Amro, for $21 billion as part of a larger deal considered to be the world’s biggest financial-services takeover.

ABN Amro this morning said it would back a $91 billion acquisition offer from Barclays, the London-based bank giant, but consider other offers. LaSalle’s headquarters in the U.S. is in Chicago.

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