First Union To Expand Investment Banking Capabilities With Acquisition Of Bowles Hollowell Conner

    CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- First Union Corporation
 (NYSE:   FTU) has announced a definitive agreement to purchase Charlotte-based
 Bowles Hollowell Conner & Co., one of the nation's premier merger and
 acquisition investment banking firms dedicated to middle market clients.
     The combined company will have among the strongest middle market M&A and
 private equity teams in the country.
     The acquisition is currently expected to close by April 30, 1998, subject
 to regulatory approval and other conditions of closing. The terms of the
 transaction were not disclosed.
     Steve Cummings, chairman and chief executive officer of the privately-held
 Bowles Hollowell Conner, will report to Ken Thompson, First Union executive
 vice president and co-head of Capital Markets. Cummings will maintain
 responsibility for the combined company's merger & acquisition advisory and
 private equity sponsors groups. Upon closing, the firm will operate under the
 name Bowles Hollowell Conner, a division of the First Union Capital Markets
 Group.
     "Bowles Hollowell is an ideal partner for First Union based on their track
 record of superior execution, strong client relationships and middle
 market focus," said Thompson. "They are among the best, and most reputable,
 players in the national M&A market and strategically enhance our private
 equity sponsors and specialized industry activities."
     This merger, combined with our recent acquisition of Wheat First Butcher
 Singer, vaults First Union years ahead in key investment banking areas."
     First Union closed its acquisition of Richmond-based Wheat First Butcher
 Singer on January 31, 1998, giving the company equity underwriting capability
 and enhanced M&A and retail brokerage efforts.
     Founded in 1975, Bowles Hollowell serves private equity groups, middle
 market companies and large corporations throughout the nation. The firm has
 closed approximately 140 transactions since 1994. Bowles Hollowell's
 capabilities enhance First Union's textile and healthcare focus, while adding
 expertise in the automotive, food products and distribution, building
 products, technology and aerospace & defense industries.
     Private equity groups, which directly invest in leveraged buyouts and
 recapitalizations of private companies, constitute the largest segment of
 Bowles Hollowell's client base.  The firm has represented more than 75
 different private equity groups in at least one transaction in the last 5
 years.  More than 275 groups are closely covered by Bowles Hollowell.
     Industry-wide since 1996, private equity groups have raised nearly $18
 billion in 400 public equity offerings for their portfolio companies, totaling
 approximately $1.2 billion in underwriting fees; nearly $30 billion in 165
 high yield offerings resulting in $925 million in fees; and $113 billion in
 485 loan syndications generating fees of $1.7 billion.
     "The potential of this merger is tremendous," said Cummings. "First Union
 has built a strong, comprehensive capital markets product line, which fits
 perfectly with Bowles Hollowell's well-established client base.  Likewise, we
 have the opportunity to leverage our strong M&A advisory capabilities across
 First Union's vast middle market client base on the East Coast and throughout
 the nation.  As we evaluated our options for the future, aligning ourselves
 with First Union was hands-down our top choice."
     "We have made great strides in building our Capital Markets business over
 the past four years, and this deal with Bowles Hollowell propels us even
 further ahead in several key business lines," said Thompson.  "As the numbers
 show, our opportunity for market penetration and increased profitability is
 substantial."
     First Union Capital Markets and Wheat First Union are the investment
 banking divisions of Wheat First Securities Inc., the Section 20 subsidiary of
 First Union Corp.  Together, they provide a comprehensive range of capital
 markets solutions to corporate clients including equity underwriting, merger
 and acquisition advisory, high yield finance, private placements, loan
 syndications, risk management and public finance.
     Charlotte-based First Union Corporation is the nation's sixth-largest bank
 holding company with assets of $157 billion as of Dec. 31, 1997. The company
 serves approximately 12 million customers throughout the East Coast and
 nation.
 
 

SOURCE First Union Corporation

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