National City, seeking to solidify its position as a banking power in the Midwest, has gone public with an $870 million stock offer for Cleveland banking rival Ameritrust. National City Chairman Edward Brandon said he first approached troubled Ameritrust last September, then renewed the offer May 2.

Ameritrust, under interim leadership since its CEO resigned last summer after a sharp rise in the number of bad loans on its books, has said only that it will study the offer and other alternatives, including staying independent. Brandon left open the option of making a hostile offer. The deal would give National City assets of $35 billion and turn it into the nation's 17th-largest bank. It would also, say analysts, help relieve the region's banking overcapacity.

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