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PROFITS JUMP 30% AT MARINE MIDLAND'S PARENT

Across-the-board growth in all banking facets helped HSBC Americas Inc., the parent of Marine Midland Bank, report a fourth consecutive quarter of more than $100 million in net income on Tuesday.

HSBC's net income for the three months ending June 30 totaled a record $116.1 million, up 30.3 percent from $89.1 million in 1996.

Through the first six months of the year, net income totaled $230.61 million, up 31.7 percent from $175 million in 1996.

The acquisition of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Rochester, while only closing on March 1, immediately began adding to Marine's bottom line, according to James H. Cleave, HSBC's chief executive officer.

"The First Federal acquisition came together very quickly, much quicker than we expected," he said. "It's contributed very nicely to our retail deposit base and to our residential mortgage business."

The huge jump in net income was attributed to extremely strong loan growth and attendant interest income off the loans plus a large run up in other operating income, primarily fees.

Loans at June 30 totaled $20.91 billion, up $6.15 billion or 41.6 percent from $14.3 billion at June 30, 1996.

Loan interest jumped 47.7 percent to $444.33 million from $300.85 million.

The bulk of the loans, probably $4 billion to $4.5 billion, came from First Federal's residential loan portfolio," Cleave said. "The balance was from the wholesale loan business we picked up from J.P. Morgan (the financial institution's dollar-clearing operations, purchased in 1996), with some modest Marine loan growth."

Net interest income, or the money made on the difference between interest earned on assets like loans and paid on liabilities like deposits, jumped nearly $72.98 million or 32.2 percent to $299.7 million from $161.59 million.

Total other operating income, fueled by a $4.9 million increase in service charges and a $4.8 million jump in so-called other fees and commissions, rose 19.5 percent to $88.94 million from $74.42 million. Again, Cleave said the jump in fee income was attributable to the J.P. Morgan and First Federal purchases.

While net interest income climbed, so, too, did other operating expenses, including personnel expense, which rose $18.4 million or 21.5 percent to $103.94 million. More than 1,500 First Federal employees joined the Marine ranks on March 1, as the financial institution guaranteed salaries for all but a few top-echelon personnel until Aug. 22. Employment numbers should track down later in the year, according to Cleave.

HSBC Americas' return on average assets slipped slightly in the second quarter, to 1.55 percent from 1.73 percent, while return on average common equity rose to 22.9 percent from 20.74 percent.

One of Cleave's pet projects is lowering HSBC's cost-income ratio. During the second quarter, the ratio fell to 50.39 percent from 52.35 percent. The ratio is found by dividing all expenses by the total of net interest and fee income. Industry averages for regional banks generally are in the mid-50s range, but Cleave's goal is to stay around 50 percent.

For the first six months of 1997, the company registered net income of $230.61 million, up $55.57 million or 31.7 percent from $175 million in 1996.

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