Business: Invasion of Booty Snatchers

Foreign investors discover a U.S. banking bonanza

British, French, Japanese and other foreign investors in the past decade have steadily bought control of 77 U.S. banks. The initial targets were usually small, often ailing institutions like Main Bank in Houston. Not any longer. Last summer Britain's Midland Bank unveiled a plan to buy California's Crocker National Bank, the nation's 14th largest (assets:$16 billion). In the past two years, overseas investors have also grabbed such multibillion-dollar banks as New York's Marine Midland and California's Union Bank. Some lawmakers say that the buying binge has gone far enough. If the Crocker deal is...

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