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CHICAGO-Bank of America, based in Charlotte, NC, has completed the acquisition of LaSalle Bank Corp., based in Chicago. Bank of America acquired LaSalle Bank for $21 billion from ABN Amro Holding NV, based in Amsterdam. As part of the merger, Bank of America will move its commercial real estate banking headquarters to Chicago from Atlanta.

A specific location in Chicago for the commercial real estate banking headquarters has not been decided upon yet, a Bank of America spokesman tells GlobeSt.com. Bank of America decided to move the headquarters to Chicago because the city “is an important commercial market for us,” the spokesman says. “We thought it would be important to have one of our senior leaders in commercial real estate in Chicago.”

The acquisition will expand the presence of Bank of America in the Chicago metropolitan market. Chicago “was an important gap in our retail market,” he says. Bank of America had been previously entering the Chicago market by “building our own banking centers and that takes time to develop,” the spokesman says. The acquisition of LaSalle gives Bank of America its first presence in Michigan, the spokesman says. LaSalle had 17,000 commercial banking clients, 1.4 million retail customers, 1,500 ATM’s and 400 banking centers including 256 in Michigan and six in Indiana, according to a released statement on the acquisition. Bank of America had 53 million retail customers, according to Bank of America’s 2006 annual report. Figures for the amount of commercial banking clients and banking centers were not immediately available.

Bank of America is expected to eliminate 4,000 jobs, including 2,500 in the Chicago area and 1,500 in Michigan, mainly positions where there is overlap, the spokesman says. “We expect that to take place over the course of the next couple of years and then we will be in a position to achieve some of the cost expense reductions that we thought that we would achieve in this merger,” he says. Bank of America expects $800 million in after-tax expense reductions, he says. Several LaSalle bank heads will also be leaving. LaSalle chairman Norman Bobins will retire at the end of the year and LaSalle chief executive officer Larry Richman recently resigned, the spokesman said. LaSalle chief executive officer Robert Moore and commercial lending chief John Newman are also reportedly leaving the merged company.

Eugene Godbold, president of Bank of America’s commercial real estate business, will move to Chicago and Kieth Cockrell will be the regional executive for banking centers in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana and market president for Detroit. Bank of America also announced goals of capital and credit to low- and moderate-income and minority communities of $70 billion in Illinois and $25 billion in Michigan.

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