Eye on a big merger

The Bank of New York would like to acquire US Trust Corporation, the troubled trust and banking institution that at one point was considered the model of trust management.

On several occasions in the past, says Elliott Averett, chairman of the Bank of New York, the two banks have talked merger. But Mr. Averett says the management at US Trust "wanted to run their own show." Now, with recent management changes and two new shareholders -- one a German merchant bank, Schroder, Munchmeyer, Hengst, and Banco de Chile, each owning 10 percent of the stock -- the talks have not resumed.

Although the Bank of New York has not hired an investment banker to sound out management at US Trust, Mr. Averett says he would not be averse to suggesting to Daniel P. Davison, the president and chief operating officer of US Trust, that the two get together to talk "if we bumped into each other on the street."

Even the two new shareholders might not cause a problem, Mr. Averett says, "if they might be interested in making a quick buck on their investment." But he says, "We don't have any plans or anything right now, I'm just dreaming."

The dream would match up US Trust, with assets of $1.9 billion, and Bank of New York, with assets of $8.9 billion, probably making it into one of the 15 largest banks in the nation. It would also eliminate one of the Bank of New York's biggest competitors in the trust field -- a problem that might vex the anti-trust regulators. US Trust in recent years has had a series of mishaps, including major management shifts, poor performance, and bad publicity. At this point, however, some analysts believe most of the bad news is behind the bank, making it ripe for a takeover.

Mr. Davison at US Trust was not available for comment.

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