Charlotte’s Banking Industry Goes National

June 8, 1981

After a decade of mad merger mania by First Union National Bank and NCNB, the state of banking in North Carolina was akin to a farm pond that had been fished too long: There was nothing left worth catching. To continue growth, the banks had to go beyond the state's borders. The ripest target was the Florida, where America's money goes for the winter. One problem: Florida law prohibited it.

NCNB lawyer Paul Polking discovered a loophole in the law. Moving quickly, NCNB executives scoured the state for a bank, any bank, that they could buy quickly. They found it in Lake City, where the First National Bank was in financial trouble. An evening meeting in Jacksonville was quickly arranged between the three majority stockholders and NCNB officials. "After dinner, and about two hours of negotiating, NCNB had a deal and its key to the deposits of Florida's banking business," Howard Covington and Marion Ellis wrote in their book, The Story of NationsBank.

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