U.S. Bank Place
601 Second Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402-4302
Telephone: (612) 973-1111
Fax: (612) 973-2446
Incorporated: 1929 as First Bank Stock Investment Company
Total Assets: $81.53 billion (1999)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: USB
NAIC: 551111 Offices of Bank Holding Companies; 52211 Commercial Banking (pt); 52221 Credit Card Issuing (pt); 52232 Financial Transactions Processing; 52239 Other Activities Related to Credit Intermediation (pt)
We strive to create superior value for our shareholders by fulfilling our customer promise.
We simplify our customers' lives by delivering anytime, anywhere access to a comprehensive range of financial solutions. This is the essence of the U.S. Bancorp brand. 'Simplify' means satisfying customer expectations for quality, convenience and execution, while meeting the need for confidence and security. 'Access' is providing a wide range of choices for doing business with us. 'Solutions' result from our knowledge of the customer, the superior performance of our products and services, and the expertise of our people.
1891: United States National Bank of Portland is founded.
1902: United States National and Ainsworth National merge.
1925: United States National merges with Ladd and Tilton, Oregon's oldest bank.
1929: First Bank Stock Investment Corporation is formed.
1964: United States National Bank of Portland is renamed United States National Bank of Oregon.
1968: First Bank Stock Investment Corporation is renamed First Bank System, Inc.; United States National Bank reorganizes as a holding company called U.S. Bancorp.
1988: First Bank National Association is formed through the merger of large banks in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the greater Twin Cities region.
1990: First Bank hires John (Jack) Grundhofer as CEO, chairman, and president.
1993: First Bank acquires U.S. Bancorp's corporate trust operations in Oregon and Washington.
1995: U.S. Bancorp acquires West One Bancorp of Idaho.
1997: In its largest acquisition, First Bank purchases U.S. Bancorp and adopts the U.S. Bancorp name; company also acquires Piper Jaffray Companies Inc.
U.S. Bancorp, headquartered in Minneapolis, is the nation's 11th largest financial services holding company, operating in 16 states in the West and Midwest, through more than 1,000 banking locations. U.S. Bancorp is a leading provider of corporate trust services and is the leading supplier worldwide of Visa corporate and purchasing cards. The company also offers investment, payment systems, asset management, insurance, and banking services to consumers and businesses. Subsidiary U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray provides brokerage and investment banking services through some 100 offices.
History of First Bank System Inc.
In April 1929, just one-half year before the great stock market crash, 85 banks located in the Ninth Federal Reserve district joined together in a loose confederation called First Bank Stock Investment Corporation. Since the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC) had not yet been created, the purpose of the confederation was to provide mutual financial support during difficult economic times. Although there was a great deal of speculation going on during this time in Wall Street brokerage houses, most banks throughout the country remained financially conservative and extremely cautious about using their assets for anything except the most stable investments.
Despite their fiscal conservatism, a number of banks were forced to close their doors during the 1920s. With the stock market crash of October 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, conditions for the banking industry grew harsher and harsher. Many banks were forced to close during the years between 1929 and 1932. As the depression grew worse during the first few months of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, he decided in early 1933 to close all the nation's banks for ten days. The purpose of this dramatic decision was to make certain that only those banks with stable financial ledgers would be permitted to reopen their doors to the public. When the ten-day period was over, all First Bank Stock Investment Corporation subsidiaries were allowed by the federal government to reopen without any mandated reorganization. The conservative policies adhered to by First Bank management were so sound, in fact, that the holding company was able to start an acquisitions campaign that lasted through much of the 1930s.
During the 1940s, banks that belonged to the First Bank confederation largely operated independently of one another. Managers at the individual banks were fiercely loyal to their own self-interests, and never hesitated to engage in extensive price cuts if they thought it might take a profitable customer away from another bank within the confederation. In fact, the competition among confederation banks was most intense in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, where the largest individual banks in the First Bank system fought one another for customers. One cause of this counterproductive competition among the banks was the restrictive and antiquated branching legislation in Minnesota and other states in the region.
In 1954, the Bank Holding Company Act was passed by the U.S. Congress. This legislation gave the First Bank confederation and other bank holding companies throughout the nation the approval for already existing multi-state banking operations. Banks within the First Bank confederation were spread across a four-state area during this time, including Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. For the remainder of the 1950s, and throughout the decade of the 1960s, the banks of the confederation expanded their presence in these states by engaging in an aggressive acquisitions policy. By the 1970s, however, member banks of the confederation were operating so independently of one another that there was not only a lack of uniformity in services, but an overall lack of direction and centralized decision making.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the economy in the United States went into a tailspin, and the First Bank confederation was faced with the challenges of high inflation, uncertain interest rates, and growing competition from nonbank financial service companies. Confederation management recognized the need for more centralized control and in 1982 began to prepare a comprehensive strategy for this purpose. In 1985, First Bank management made its first significant decision by selling 28 smaller, rural banks with little prospect for future growth. This decision resulted in the sale of 45 offices over a four-state region. Another major decision involved the 1988 merger of the large Minneapolis and St. Paul banks, and additional suburban banks in the Twin Cities area, into First Bank National Association. The increase in operational efficiency and reduction in service costs provided the bank with a greater opportunity to compete effectively in the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area. Management at First Bank also purchased banks in the states of Washington and Colorado during this time, taking advantage of recent federal legislation that weakened many barriers to national banking.
More than the recession of the early 1980s led First Bank to reassess the adequacy and effectiveness of a loose confederation and hands-off management style. The farm crisis of the early to mid-1980s created credit quality problems for the regional banks affiliated with First Bank which were outside of the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. Under the bank's own credit examination, its credit losses amounted to $424 million by 1986. This loss was compensated for by the $397 million in realized gains when the investment securities were sold. Yet when rising interest rates led to a substantial unrealized loss estimated at $640 million in the long-term bonds which had been bought to replace the securities recently sold, the company decided upon a hedging strategy to minimize the loss. Unfortunately, the hedging strategy failed, and the bonds were finally sold at a pre-tax loss of $506 million in 1988.
First Bank's emphasis on merchant banking, capital markets, and lending specializations proved disastrous during the mid-1980s. With decreasing capital levels resulting from the securities and bond losses, rising noninterest costs, an increasing amount of nonperforming assets, and weakening profitability, the company announced a comprehensive reorganization strategy in late 1989. The strategy included a withdrawal from merchant banking and lending specializations and a concentration on more basic banking services, such as merchant processing, credit cards, automated teller machines, and cash management. The company also began to capitalize upon and extend its geographic franchise. In 1989, First Bank recorded a restructuring expense of $37.5 million, while also reporting a $175 million provision for credit losses.
After a four-month search, in January 1990 the First Bank board of directors hired John F. (Jack) Grundhofer to act as chairman, president, and chief executive officer. Grundhofer, a former vice-chairman and senior executive officer at Wells Fargo, immediately initiated a massive cost-cutting strategy designed to bring the bank back to profitability. Grundhofer and his hand-chosen management team examined each line of the bank's business to determine whether or not it could remain competitive in the market. Grundhofer's first move was to stop lending to large corporations and concentrate more on retail banking, trusts and investments, and small and middle-range businesses. As a result, First Bank's portfolio of loans was drastically reduced. All the bank's national lending programs and its indirect auto loan programs were entirely eliminated, thus allowing the company to concentrate on expanding its regional commercial lending program and its direct consumer loan program. In general, First Bank's loan portfolio was gradually restructured to emphasize a larger number and more diverse mix of consumer loans.
The most important move that Grundhofer made, however, was to commit $150 million in First Bank funds to a cost-cutting technology program. When he arrived on the scene in the beginning of 1990, Grundhofer discovered that First Bank was mired in 1950s and 1960s technology. Over 45 banks under First Bank's umbrella had 47 different data processing centers, 715 different kinds of basic consumer deposit accounts, 16 loan processing centers, eight consumer loan centers, and 20 item processing centers. The bank also was without any centralized pricing structure for its products or services, and each bank within the system offered various kinds of products and services. The company's installment loan system was initially brought in during 1959 and was still in use. First Bank's customer information system dated back to 1964, without the benefit of any update since that time. In addition, its online savings system was more than 20 years old.
Within two years Grundhofer consolidated the bank's 47 data processing centers into one, and drastically reduced or eliminated all the other loan and processing centers. He implemented a fixed price structure for the bank's products and services, and standardized the products and services each of the banks offered within the First Bank system. As First Bank's efficiency ratio improved, more customers were attracted to the services provided by the bank. By 1992, a customer could walk into any of First Bank's affiliates in the Twin Cities area and get a cashier's check or automobile loan within ten minutes. The bank also developed an extremely useful and very popular 48-hour turnaround on small business loans; for a $250,000 loan, the customer was asked to fill out a brief two-page application. Other processing capabilities that were improved by the bank's emphasis on technological development included a customer's ability to access account information from a remote site. Finally, all of the bank's numerous customer service phone centers were consolidated into two locations.
When the cost-cutting technology program began to show financial rewards, Grundhofer decided to increase First Bank's asset base through an aggressive acquisitions program. First Bank purchased U.S. Bancorp's Oregon and Washington corporate trust operations in early 1993. Prior to this, it had purchased the California corporate trust subsidiary of Bankers Trust New York Corporation in 1992. The company acquired Colorado National Bank with over $3 billion in assets, and Boulevard Bancorp in Chicago with over $1.5 billion in assets. Perhaps the most important acquisition involved the purchase of the domestic corporate trust of J.P. Morgan & Company, one of the largest and most prestigious banks in the United States. In May 1994, the company confirmed its acquisition of Metropolitan Financial Corporation for approximately $800 million. Metropolitan Financial, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based bank with $5.7 billion in assets, operated a multi-state banking office network located in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming. The purchase of Metropolitan helped push First Bank's assets to $34.5 billion, ahead of the assets at First Fidelity Bancorp, the nation's 25th largest bank holding company.
In 1990 and 1991, the bank's capital restoration program involved a private placement of new common stock, which raised some $145 million from an investment partnership headed by Lazard Freres, and $30 million from the State Board of Administration of Florida. The bank also initiated a public offering of $114.5 million of preferred stock. These moves placed First Bank's capital ratio in the top percentile of regional banks in the United States.
Under Grundhofer's leadership, by the beginning of 1995 First Bank had grown into one of the largest and most successful of the regional banks. With its financial condition clearly improved, First Bank began to develop a community initiatives program that became a model for regional banks. First Bank's extensive community outreach program involved volunteerism, youth-employment projects, event sponsorships, and grants to nonprofit organizations. The company offered a comprehensive line of mortgage products and services to help low and moderate income families purchase their own homes. The bank also tailored loans for people with disabilities, provided customer assistance for non-English speaking peoples, and offered free accounts and services to individuals with low-income jobs. First Bank also extended credit to small businesses that fostered community development and rehabilitation by working closely with the Small Business Administration.
First Bank continued to focus its efforts on growth through acquisitions, and in March 1995 the company completed its acquisition of holding company First Western Corporation, which owned Western Bank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The sale included Western Bank's 12 branches in South Dakota. Also that year First Bank bought Southwest Bank, First Bank of Omaha, and FirsTier Financial Inc., greatly furthering its presence in Nebraska. The acquisitions made First Bank the largest banking firm in Nebraska, with a leading market share in Lincoln and the number two spot in Omaha. The FirsTier purchase was the largest bank acquisition in Nebraska history. Continuing with its flurry of acquisitions in 1995, First Bank bought the corporate trust operations of BankAmerica Corporation, making First Bank the nation's largest corporate trust company in terms of revenues. The following year First Bank added to its corporate trust operations by purchasing the municipal and corporate bond trustee division of Comerica Inc., a banking company based in Detroit.
Though acquisitions were a primary concern of First Bank, the company also focused on streamlining operations. The company's trust and investment division implemented a cost-cutting plan, which included personnel cuts and technology enhancements, to decrease expenses and boost revenues. First Bank also made the decision to depart the mortgage banking industry by selling its FBS Mortgage and Colorado National Mortgage operations. The bank planned to continue offering mortgage loans through its bank branches.
In the mid-1990s First Bank also spent a great deal of time, money, and energy in its attempt to acquire First Interstate Bancorp. First Bank lost out to Wells Fargo & Co., which had made several hostile takeover bids for First Interstate before succeeding. The battle was the largest hostile takeover attempt in the history of U.S. banking and, while it left First Bank without the First Interstate empire, the company gained a $200 million termination fee. First Bank hoped to use these funds to finance a significant acquisition, one that would enhance its operations and make it a strong contender in the rapidly consolidating and highly competitive U.S. banking industry.
History of U.S. Bancorp
U.S. Bancorp was organized as a holding company by the United States Bank of Oregon in the late 1960s, a time when many large banks across the country acknowledged and fostered their transformation into diversified financial services organizations by forming bank holding companies. The company's historical roots, however, stretch back nearly a century before the descriptive phrase 'diversified financial services organizations' became part of banking nomenclature, reaching back into the late 19th century to a simpler age when the business of banking comprised the rudimentary tasks of receiving deposits, cashing checks, and extending and collecting loans. Banking would develop into a much more sophisticated business by the time U.S. Bancorp first emerged in the late 1960s, but the company's true origins stemmed from the efforts of a handful of wealthy and influential businessmen during the early 1890s and their organization of The United States National Bank of Portland.
From out of the uncharted Portland wilderness, Oregon developed into a bustling commercial and industrial hub during the 19th century, its growth propelled by successive waves of settlers into the Pacific Northwest and the subsequent establishment of a spectrum of businesses and industries. As the community evolved from a secluded settlement into a burgeoning town and finally into one of the principal cities underpinning the Pacific Northwest's economy, banks were there to promote and support its growth, serving as a crucial source of capital in a region far removed from the established financial centers in the eastern United States. Starting in 1859, when the first national bank in Portland, the Ladd and Tilton, was organized, Portland's business operators began to utilize bank loans to develop their enterprises. As the town grew, requiring more and more capital to fund its development, the number of banks increased, totaling five in the state of Oregon by 1872, then jumping to 16 by 1880. Roughly a decade later, when more than 40 national banks were operating in Oregon, United States National Bank of Portland (U.S. National) was organized by nine businessmen.
Led by Donald MacLeay, an immigrant from Scotland who made his fortune in the grocery and shipping business, and George Washington Ewing Griffith, a wealthy Kansas businessman, the founding directors, all of whom were born outside of Oregon, organized U.S. National on February 5, 1891, then opened the bank four days later in rented offices in downtown Portland. Although U.S. National operated without a vault during its inaugural year, the apparent lack of security did not dissuade customers from bringing their banking business to the city's newest bank. During the bank's first day 15 customers opened new accounts, depositing a total of $21,886.30. By the end of its first year, fledgling U.S. National had become a thriving enterprise, holding $450,000 in deposits and capital stock and administering more than $350,000 in loans. It was an encouraging start for U.S. National, but before there was much chance for celebration, economic conditions in Oregon and throughout the nation soured, providing the bank with its first great test of resiliency while still in its infancy.
In 1893, two years after U.S. National began operating, a severe economic depression gripped the country, devastating more than 500 of the nation's banks and more than 16,000 businesses by the end of the year. Among the victims of the harsh economic conditions were a number of stable and respected Portland banks, but despite its status as a neophyte in the area's banking community U.S. National beat back the debilitating effects of the economic downturn. The bank's deposits slipped from a high of more than $400,000 in 1892 to less than $340,000 in 1896, but when the discovery of gold in the late 1890s swept away any lingering effects of the economic depression in the Pacific Northwest, U.S. National emerged stronger than ever before. For this strength the bank was indebted to the financial malaise of the early and mid-1890s, a deleterious period for many banks that left U.S. National occupying a more powerful position. Of Oregon's 41 national banks operating in 1892, only 27 remained after the depression, creating a more consolidated banking industry that buoyed U.S. National's position considerably. Of these 27 national banks, only four would survive to compete during the 20th century: Ainsworth National, Merchants National, First National, and the upstart U.S. National.
Less than a decade old in 1900, U.S. National had already passed Ainsworth National in volume of business to rank as the third largest bank and was gaining ground on Merchants National to secure the industry's second position. Growth would come quickly during the first decades of the new century as bankers recouped their losses from the 1890s and shared in the prosperity of the times. During the first decade of the century, the number of national banks in Oregon increased from 27 to 75, and deposits quadrupled as the city of Portland, with 200,000 residents by 1910, flourished economically. As one of the city's stalwart banks, U.S. National benefited greatly from the more robust economic conditions and was able to conclude several pivotal transactions that secured its inclusion among the region's leading banks. In 1902 U.S. National and Ainsworth National, the fourth largest bank, agreed to merge, creating a banking entity that kept the U.S. National corporate title and controlled resources valued at more than $2 million. Three years later U.S. National merged with Wells Fargo Company's Portland bank as growth and prosperity reigned, then in 1917 the bank merged with another large Portland bank, Lumbermens National. The merger with Lumbermens National increased U.S. National's deposits by $6.5 million and made it the second largest bank in the Pacific Northwest.
By the beginning of the 1920s U.S. National had deposits of more than $36 million, having grown considerably during its first 30 years of operation. In 1925 the bank set the tone for the magnitude of growth ahead when it merged with the venerable Ladd and Tilton. Aside from being the region's oldest bank, Ladd and Tilton represented a potent banking competitor with more than $20 million in deposits and 30,000 depositors. Once Ladd and Tilton was merged into U.S. National, U.S. National received a substantial boost to its stature, becoming the largest bank north of San Francisco and west of Minneapolis, with resources totaling $64.6 million, deposits reaching $60 million, and a large base of 75,000 depositors.
The 1920s were heady years for U.S. National, but as the events of the next decade unfolded, the bank faced economic conditions far more menacing than those surmounted during the 1890s. During the Great Depression more than half of the country's banks were financially ruined, thousands of businesses were devastated, and the ranks of the unemployed swelled beyond precedent. Like the economic depression touched off in 1893, however, U.S. National withstood the pernicious effects of financial collapse all around it, although deposits once again shrank during the period. Deposits reached a high of $71 million in September 1931, then over the next eight months fell by $10 million; however, by the late 1930s business began to recover and the bank's deposits eclipsed $100 million. Perhaps the most important occurrence during the otherwise crippling 1930s was the enactment of legislation enabling banks to establish branches, which U.S. National began doing in 1933 and would continue to do thereafter.
During the 1940s U.S. National expanded its presence geographically by acquiring existing banks and converting them to U.S. National branches, such as the bank's 1940 purchase of the Medford National Bank, First National of Corvallis, and the Ladd and Bush Bank of Salem. Although the number of banking units comprising U.S. National's growing branch network rose only modestly during World War II, climbing from 26 to 29, deposits nearly tripled during the war years, leaping to $581 million by the end of 1945. Following the war, when an era of widespread prosperity gave large segments of the American population substantially more disposable income than ever before, the national banking industry underwent a dramatic shift as banks across the country began focusing on the consumer with concerted intensity. Loans for consumer purchases proliferated, and U.S. National responded by augmenting its consumer credit department with a branch consumer credit department in 1949. Bank advertising during the era reflected the significant shift in focus, as advertisements began to emphasize the availability of loans for individuals and the use of bank credit, rather than encouraging thrift as they had done since U.S. National's inception.
Between 1945 and 1955, 35 banking units were added to U.S. National's branch system, the bulk of which--29--were acquired through mergers and acquisitions as the bank swallowed smaller competitors and outpaced larger competitors with its aggressive expansion across the state of Oregon. Aside from ranking as one of the larger state banks in the nation, U.S. National also began to distinguish itself as an industry pioneer during the 1950s by offering such innovative services as drive-up banking, erecting the first motor banking facility in Oregon in 1956, and leading the way with a computerized system to post checks in 1957.
In contrast to the 1950s, U.S. National expanded its branch network through internal means during the 1960s, creating new banking facilities rather than absorbing existing banking units through mergers or acquisitions. By 1965 the bank operated 100 branches across the state, a considerable presence that the bank's directors had acknowledged the previous year by changing the bank's name from United States National Bank of Portland to United States National Bank of Oregon. Other, more significant changes were in the offing as the bank entered the late 1960s and began to formulate a plan for the future, in search of a way to contend with the mounting pressures affecting banks during the period.
The business of banking had become a complex and highly competitive endeavor by the 1960s, substantially more sophisticated than when U.S. National first opened its doors in 1891. In addition to a much broader range of financial services offered by commercial banks, the market for these services had become more competitive since World War II. Between 1945 and 1960, savings in commercial banks such as U.S. National had doubled, whereas the amount in savings and loan associations had sextupled and the amount in credit unions had increased an enormous tenfold, absorbing business that would traditionally have gone to commercial banks.
In response, commercial banks began to form one-bank holding companies during the late 1960s, enabling them to acquire and organize other subsidiaries that could legally offer a broader range of services. In so doing, banks hoped to beat back the competition and keep noncommercial banks from entering into financial activities that historically had been under the exclusive purview of commercial banks. On September 9, 1968, U.S. National followed the nationwide trend by forming U.S. Bancorp as a one-bank holding company, heralding the development of a vast financial services network and the extension of U.S. Bancorp beyond Oregon's borders.
Once able to delve into new businesses, U.S. Bancorp did so with fervor, organizing a host of financial services subsidiaries during the 1970s: Bancorp Leasing, Inc., which was organized to enhance service to business customers through lease financing; U.S. Bancorp Financial, Inc., a subsidiary formed to specialize in asset-based commercial financing; and Mount Hood Credit Life Insurance Agency, which was created to centralize and streamline credit-related insurance activities throughout the U.S. National system. Numerous other subsidiaries were formed in the wake of U.S. Bancorp's founding, transforming the U.S. National-U.S. Bancorp network into a genuine regional financial services organization.
By the beginning of the 1980s, U.S. Bancorp was well on its way to becoming one of the preeminent regional financial services organizations in the country. Decidedly acquisitive throughout the 1980s, the holding company started the decade by establishing The Bank of Milwaukee, a state-chartered bank, in 1980, making U.S. Bancorp a multi-bank holding company. During the year, the company also acquired State Finance and Thrift Company of Logan, Utah, and established Citizen's Industrial Bank in Littleton, Colorado, further bolstering its out-of-state presence in regions where U.S. National was not allowed to operate. By the end of the year U.S. Bancorp's territory included California, Texas, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, and its home state of Oregon, giving the company ample room to grow as the decade progressed.
With the acquisition of Spokane-based Old National Bancorp and Seattle-based Peoples Bancorp in 1987, U.S. Bancorp became the largest bank holding company based in the Northwest. During the late 1980s, the company continued to aggressively pursue smaller rival banks, hoping to achieve a dominant position in markets opened up earlier in the decade. Other large banking organizations followed a similar strategy, creating a nationwide trend toward consolidation that left U.S. Bancorp as the last major independent bank in the Pacific Northwest by the early 1990s. With $19 billion in assets in 1992, the company ranked as the 32nd largest bank in the United States.
During the next two years, U.S. Bancorp's management began to focus its efforts on achieving greater efficiency by streamlining the company's operations and eliminating nearly a quarter of its workforce through layoffs and the divestiture of noncore subsidiaries. After two years of implementing severe downsizing measures, the company announced a momentous acquisition in 1995 that added substantially to U.S. Bancorp's already sizable holdings. Intent on strengthening its position in Idaho, where the company maintained only a token presence, U.S. Bancorp officials announced the $1.6 billion acquisition of West One Bancorp of Idaho in May, which the shareholders of both banking organizations agreed to in October. Completed at the end of 1995, the deal made U.S. Bancorp one of the 30 largest banking organizations in the country, with $30 billion in assets and $21 billion in deposits.
Buoyed by its purchase of West One, U.S. Bancorp continued its quest for growth in 1996. In an age of industry consolidation, U.S. Bancorp hoped to expand and grow to stave off takeover attempts, and acquisitions proved an optimal way to grow quickly. The company bought Northern California-based California Bancshares Inc. for about $327 million, boosting its presence there from 57 branches to 93 and expanding its area of operations from 22 counties to 27. In December 1996 U.S. Bancorp grew its presence in northern California further with the acquisition of Sacramento-based Business & Professional Bank. The small bank had four offices in the Sacramento region. U.S. Bancorp picked up another small bank with the purchase of Sun Capital Bancorp of Utah. The fast-growing Sun Capital had three branches in St. George, in the southern portion of Utah. U.S. Bancorp also hoped to capitalize on the growth of in-store banking and made plans to open about 200 supermarket branches from 1996 to 2000. The company inked a deal with Albertson's Inc. to provide exclusive banking services to about 170 Albertson's stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada.
Though U.S. Bancorp continued to strengthen operations and grow, industry analysts believed the bank was not immune to takeover attempts. U.S. Bancorp's strategy of acquiring small companies, some analysts felt, was insufficient and would not protect the bank from larger adversaries. In addition, small to mid-sized banks were growing more scarce, leaving U.S. Bancorp with few potential acquisitions, and competition was growing. The bank ran into a small obstacle when its attempt to buy 61 branches in California from Wells Fargo & Co. in 1996 failed. Still, U.S. Bancorp remained confident and hopeful that it would be able to continue functioning independently.
First Bank System Acquires U.S. Bancorp: Late 1990s
In early 1997 First Bank System announced it would acquire U.S. Bancorp for about $8.8 billion, extending First Bank's reach to the Pacific Ocean. The deal, which was one of the largest in U.S. banking history, nearly doubled First Bank's asset size and created a mega-bank serving about 17 states in the Midwest and West. The merged entity took the name U.S. Bancorp, with headquarters remaining in Minneapolis. First Bank's Grundhofer served as president and CEO, while U.S. Bancorp's Gerry Cameron continued as chairman until his retirement in 1998. According to the Star-Tribune, Grundhofer commented on the merger at a press conference and said, 'Our regions are contiguous, compatible and are in attractive growth markets. Our banks both have strong market presence. Our business strategies are virtually identical.'
As part of the consolidation efforts, nearly 4,000 staff members were laid off, the bulk of them from among U.S. Bancorp's 14,000 workers, including about 2,000 positions in the Portland region. Loan servicing operations in Portland were moved to Minneapolis, and credit card processing operations were moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where First Bank's credit card division was based.
In late 1997 the new U.S. Bancorp announced it would buy Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray Companies Inc. for about $730 million. The acquisition greatly enhanced U.S. Bancorp's ability to provide investment banking and securities brokerage services to customers and created the 11th largest brokerage in the nation. U.S. Bancorp continued to grow in 1998 and bought Northwest National Bank, a small, family-owned bank in Vancouver, Washington, near Portland, Oregon. In the summer of 1998 U.S. Bancorp gained an exclusive contract to provide the Department of Defense with purchasing cards and electronic commerce systems. The bank beat out several competitors to gain the lucrative contract.
In 1999 U.S. Bancorp exited the retail banking scene in Kansas when it sold its 20 branches to INTRUST Bank of Wichita, Kansas' largest bank. The company also sold eight branches in Iowa. Though U.S. Bancorp left Kansas, it strove to increase its presence in southern California in 1999 by acquiring several banks. The bank purchased Bank of Commerce, based in San Diego, for $314 million in stock. Bank of Commerce operated ten branches. U.S. Bancorp also bought Western Bancorp of Newport Beach for about $958 million in stock. Western Bancorp operated Santa Monica Bank and Southern California Bank and had 31 branches. The bank was known for its commercial lending operations. In the fall of 1999 U.S. Bancorp announced it would buy Peninsula Bank of San Diego for about $104 million in stock. Prior to the three acquisitions, U.S. Bancorp had 88 branches in southern California.
U.S. Bancorp grew its U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray division with the acquisition of Libra Investments, Inc., in early 1999 and the investment banking operations of John Nuveen Co. in September. The following year the company bought specialty leasing company Oliver-Allen Corporation. Also in 2000 the bank continued its acquisition streak in southern California when it purchased Scripps Financial Corp. of San Diego. The buy included nine branches of Scripps Bank, primarily a commercial bank.
Though U.S. Bancorp appeared to be on the fast track of growth in the late 1990s, its consumer banking operations, which accounted for about one-third of U.S. Bancorp's earnings, struggled, and retail revenue grew a mere four percent in 1999. U.S Bancorp's 1999 net income was $1.51 billion, up from 1998 net income of $1.33 billion, but the company failed to meet its growth goals. To stoke up its consumer banking division, U.S. Bancorp hired hundreds of new branch tellers, customer service representatives for its telephone operations, and small business bankers. The bank also added new electronic banking services and began to overhaul more than 1,000 branches. Still, the company's stock continued to sag, and during the first half of 2000 its stock price fell 11 percent. U.S. Bancorp's Grundhofer remained optimistic and confident about the bank's future, stating in his letter to shareholders in the company's 1999 annual report that U.S. Bancorp hoped to meet its growth goal of 12 to 15 percent by the end of 2001.
Principal Subsidiaries: U.S. Bank National Association; U.S. Bank National Association MT; U.S. Bank National Association ND; U.S. Bank National Association OR; U.S. Bank Trust Company, National Association; U.S. Bank Trust National Association; U.S. Bank Trust National Association MT; U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc.; FBS Capital I; U.S. Bancorp Venture Capital Corporation; U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation; U.S. Bancorp Information Services, Inc.; U.S. Bancorp Equity Capital, Inc.; USB Trade Services Limited; U.S. Trade Services, Inc.; U.S. Bancorp Capital I; U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Companies Inc.; First Building Corporation; First Group Royalties, Inc.; First System Services, Inc.; U.S. Bancorp Card Services, Inc.; U.S. Bancorp Insurance Services, Inc.
Principal Competitors: Citigroup Inc.; Wells Fargo & Company; KeyCorp.
Anderson, Michael A., 'U.S. Bancorp's Interstate Bid Begins Anew,' Business Journal-Portland, May 19, 1986, p. 1.
Bennett, Robert A., 'Roger Faces Goliath,' United States Banker, June 1992, p. 20.
Condon, Bernard, 'Brother, Can You Spare a Bank?', Forbes, April 3, 2000.
Crockett, Barton, 'U.S. Bancorp to Ax 52 Branches After Merger,' American Banker, October 27, 1995, p. 4.
DePass, Dee, 'FBS Reaches West,' Star-Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Minneapolis-St.Paul, March 21, 1997, p. D1.
Fitch, Mike, 'Mother Lode's Buyer Got Good Deal, Say Observers,' Puget Sound Business Journal, November 6, 1989, p. 22.
Heind, John, 'Buy or Be Bought,' Forbes, May 18, 1987, p. 48.
Jaffe, Thomas, 'Cheap Bank,' Forbes, June 29, 1987, p. 122.
Jordon, Steve, 'First Bank Is Poised to Grow in Nebraska,' Omaha World-Herald, June 9, 1995, p. 14.
------, 'U.S. Bancorp Chairman Is Building for Long Haul,' Omaha World-Herald, June 21, 2000, p. 18.
Kapiloff, Howard, 'Fourth-of-July Merger Fireworks,' American Banker, July 5, 1994, p. 1.
Klinkerman, Steve, and Karen Gullo, 'First Bank System to Purchase Morgan's Corporate Trust Unit,' American Banker, January 5, 1993, p. 5.
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------, 'U.S. Bancorp: Hunter or Prey?', Portland Oregonian, September 12, 1996, p. B1.
------, 'U.S. Bancorp on Guard Duty,' Portland Oregonian, May 8, 1996, p. B1.
Ota, Alan K., and Steve Woodward, 'First Bank Wooed U.S. Bank in Polite but Insistent Romance,' Portland Oregonian, March 26, 1997.
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Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 36. St. James Press, 2001.