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BARNETT WILL CONVERT FIRST FLORIDA BANK MARCH 19

 JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The largest banking conversion in Barnett Bank's (NYSE: BBI) history began today and will be complete by Monday, March 22.
 The $5.5-billion-asset First Florida Bank, N.A., is being merged into 14 Barnett banks in 20 counties. A major component of the conversion is to consolidate 98 overlapping First Florida and Barnett locations.
 When complete, Barnett will have 592 offices operating in Florida and 43 in Georgia. Combined assets of the company exceeded $39 billion at Dec. 31, 1992. The company is first, second or third in deposits in 44 of 45 Florida counties.
 "The is the final step in merging the two oldest banking organizations in the state. It creates Florida's only super-community bank," said Barnett's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles Rice. "We expect it to be good for customers and good for Florida."
 There will be very few changes for First Florida customers. They may continue to choose whatever location is most convenient, and existing service charges remain unchanged. "We look forward to the opportunity to serve them and introduce Barnett's packages of products," said James Covington, Barnett director of marketing.
 Conversion activities for the weekend include replacing existing signage with new Barnett signs, converting existing computer systems to Barnett's systems, stocking branches with Barnett forms and literature, and simultaneously consolidating overlapping offices throughout the state. "We are proud of the planning and preparations that will enable our employees to provide Barnett services on Monday morning," said Lynda Smith, Barnett's director of bank support, who has master-minded much of the operational conversion. "We are working to make the changes as transparent as possible for our customers," she said. "Everyone will be providing Barnett services Monday at all locations."
 Roseann Duran, marketing communications director, and her staff have planned customer communications. "We've been working with our First Florida customers to be sure we are offering them the right combination of services to meet their needs," she noted. Part of this has been a direct mail effort matching each customer with a specific Barnett product package. More than 750,000 messages are being mailed.
 Training has been another key area. "This has been an on-going process since late last year so that First Florida employees are equipped to deliver Barnett products," Duran said. "It is a tremendous opportunity to establish strong relationships with our new base of customers."
 To prepare for the conversion, since May 1992 Barnett and First Florida employees have developed detailed plans under the direction of Becky Allen, Barnett's on-site merger coordinator in Tampa. "This weekend is the pay-off for all of that preparation," coordinator Allen noted. "It reflects the efforts of hundreds of First Florida and Barnett employees working together."
 "We ended up with more than 8,000 tasks," explained Jay Mueller, in charge of the 200-page planning document.
 Barnett is Florida's largest banking organization, with a total of 635 offices in Florida and Georgia and assets of $39 billion. It is the 18th-largest banking organization in the United States. Its stock (BBI) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
 SUMMARY OF EVENTS
 First Florida Bank Operational Conversion
 Closing Weekend: During March 19-22, Barnett and former First Florida employees will be consolidating, converting signs, computers, equipment, furniture and forms in all of the affected offices in 20 counties.
 Office Closings, Divestitures: Seventy-eight First Florida offices will be closed and accounts moved to nearby Barnett locations; two locations will be divested. Twenty Barnett offices also will be closed, with accounts moving to nearby former First Florida offices; two Barnett locations will be divested.
 Divestitures: The four divesting offices, two Barnett and two First Florida, are located in Citrus and Highlands counties.
 ATMs: First Florida ATMs are being converted to Barnett ATMs.
 Customer Communications: A series of direct mailings to customers explains that they may choose any Barnett office convenient to them, how to move safe deposit boxes, renew checks, and sign up for new Barnett packaged products.
 Signs: All offices remaining after the consolidation will have Barnett signage.
 Telephones: A customer hotline has been established to handle any questions. It is 800-437-4689.
 Position Reductions: Approximately 1,500 positions have been eliminated since the merger was announced in May 1992, almost 50 percent through attrition. A commitment was made to retain all tellers and customer service representatives.
 Office Sales: More than 100 requests for proposals to purchase closed offices have been submitted to brokers. Nearly 500 inquiries have been received.
 Fixed Assets: A massive effort to catalog and dispose of furniture, equipment and other fixed assets is under way.
 Service Pricing: All product and service charges remain unchanged for former First Florida customers as Barnett introduces its packaged services to them.
 Safe Deposit Boxes: All customers whose safe deposit boxes are being relocated have received a series of letters explaining what to do. In many cases, the boxes were moved automatically.
 Branch Modifications: Sixty office modification projects totaling more than $25 million, planned to accommodate the greater number of customers, are under way.
 Security: Security services, alarms and other features continue uninterrupted at allCE CLOSINGS OR DIVESTITURES
 First Florida Bank Operational Conversion
 Closed or Divested Total Offices
 County First Florida Barnett Remaining
 1. Brevard 6 3 16
 2. Charlotte 2 1 5
 3. Citrus 4 4 6
 4. Collier 3 0 13
 5. Escambia 3 0 6
 6. Gadsden 0 0 2
 7. Hernando 4 1 8
 8. Highlands 1 0 5
 9. Hillsborough 14 2 40
 10. Lake 1 1 10
 11. Lee 4 0 20
 12. Leon 2 0 8
 13. Manatee 3 1 15
 14. Orange 1 0 22
 15. Osceola 2 0 6
 16. Pasco 3 1 20
 17. Pinellas 15 6(A) 56
 18. Polk 3 1 21
 19. Sarasota 7 1 20
 20. Volusia 2 0 24
 Total affected offices 80 22 323
 Other Barnett offices 269
 Total Florida offices 592
 Georgia offices 43
 Total network 635
 (A) -- Three locations will close by mid-June.
 -0- 3/19/93
 /CONTACT: Bob Stickler (media), 904-791-5437, or home, 904-396-9284; or Helen Rowan (analysts), 904-791-7627, or home, 904-272-6915, both of Barnett Banks, Inc./
 (BBI)


CO: Barnett Banks, Inc.; First Florida Bank, N.A. ST: Florida IN: FIN SU: TNM

AW-JB -- FL002 -- 7798 03/19/93 09:57 EST
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Date:Mar 19, 1993
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