As Buyer, Banc One Gets The Boot

Banc One, a prodigious purchaser of other banks, has often described acquisitions as a "line of business." So it was something of a comedown when the Columbus (Ohio) company announced on Feb. 14 that its acquisition of Omaha's $3.1 billion FirsTier Financial was off. The villain: Banc One's drooping stock. The value of Banc One's offer, $712 million when the merger was announced last April, fell to $535 million by Feb. 11. FirsTier asked for more stock, and Banc One refused--so FirstTier walked. Bank stocks generally have been depressed. But Banc One stock no longer trades at a lofty premium to other banks, making some analysts wonder if its acquisition binge is over.

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