A Merger For Bankers Trust?

Bankers Trust is in for still more interesting times. After a year of derivatives-related client lawsuits and just weeks after reporting a $157 million loss for the first quarter of 1995, Chairman and CEO Charles S. Sanford Jr. announced on May 16 that he will resign in 1996, when he turns 60.

Who will replace him? Instead of turning immediately to President Eugene Shanks, the Bankers' board will conduct a wide-ranging search. Sanford says it's simply "too early to have two CEOs." But early speculation is on a financial luminary such as Gary Wendt, head of General Electric Capital, or J.P. Morgan Vice-Chairman Roberto Mendoza.

But some analysts say the board's action may open the door to a merger. Sanford won't comment. With the board exploring all options, "it's a plausible read that...the company could be for sale," says Merrill Lynch analyst Judah Kraushaar. Much of Bankers' core derivatives business is out of fashion, but global custody and investment management operations might tempt a buyer. Its stock is at 581/4, just 116% of book value.

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