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FIRST FLORIDA TO MERGE WITH BARNETT BANKS

 FIRST FLORIDA TO MERGE WITH BARNETT BANKS
 JACKSONVILLE, Fla, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Barnett Banks, Inc.


(NYSE: BBI) and First Florida Banks, Inc. (NASDAQ-NMS: FFBK), Florida's two oldest banking companies, announced today that they have signed a definitive merger agreement.
 The transaction is not projected to dilute Barnett earnings. Under terms of the agreement, First Florida shareholders will receive 1.42 shares of Barnett common stock for each First Florida common share. Based on the $39.25 closing price of Barnett shares last Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, the exchange would be valued at $885 million.
 "With this combination, Barnett has a great opportunity to serve the citizens of Florida with a strong, thriving, home-based bank that has the capacity to meet the state's growing needs," said Charles E. Rice, Barnett chairman and chief executive officer. "Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the country, with more than 700 new residents arriving every day. Barnett and First Florida have both flourished for more than 100 years using similar philosophies of serving their communities with quality financial services.
 "First Florida's superb retail and small to middle-market business franchise fits perfectly with Barnett's strategy to serve the needs of those businesses. Both of us have been trying to create 'SuperCommunity banks' with the strength of a regional institution and the market effectiveness of a community bank," he said.
 "This merger allows our bankers to continue to provide their customers with the service and quality products they have come to expect from First Florida," said Paul M. Homan, president and chief executive officer of First Florida Banks, Inc. "We are excited about the opportunity to be a part of a strong Florida-based bank that is equally committed to our traditional constituencies. Given the compatibility of the two organizations, it is a compelling strategic fit."
 Allen L. Lastinger Jr., Barnett president and chief operating officer, noted that First Florida's strong correspondent banking and trust businesses will bring great value to the merged institution.
 "Barnett is committed to supporting those businesses and providing the resources for them to grow," he said. "They are especially important in view of Barnett's strategic goal of increasing its non- interest income."
 Because this is a totally "in-market merger," Barnett expects to achieve substantial cost savings. The transaction is expected to enhance Barnett's earnings per share in the first year after the transaction closes. It is likely that, as with other similar combinations, a restructuring charge will be taken in the quarter the transaction closes to cover initial costs of the acquisition, severances, leases and other expenses.
 The merger, which is to be accounted for as a pooling of interest, must be approved by regulatory authorities and the shareholders of both companies. It is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 1992. First Florida granted Barnett an option to purchase up to 19.9 percent of the outstanding shares of First Florida under certain conditions.
 The combined bank will have $2.5 billion in equity and a total risk-based capital ratio of more than 11.5 percent. Other Barnett capital ratios will be strengthened.
 With $32.9 billion in assets and 550 offices in Florida and 42 in Georgia, Barnett Banks, Inc. is the leading financial institution in Florida and the 19th-largest in the United States. The Jacksonville- based company's stock (BBI) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
 First Florida Banks, Inc. is a Tampa-based bank holding company with $5.4 billion in assets. It operates 144 banking offices along Florida's west coast from Pensacola to Naples/Marco Island and throughout the Central Florida area to the Atlantic Coast.
 -0- 5/18/92
 /NOTE TO EDITOR: Barnett and First Florida will hold a telephone news conference beginning at 2:30 p.m. today. To participate, call 800-827-1700 by 2:30 p.m./
 /CONTACT: Bob Stickler (media), 904-791-5437 (office) or 904-396-9284 (home), or Helen Rowan (analysts), 904-791-7627 (office) or 904-272-6915 (home), both of Barnett Banks, Inc.; or Jerri Franz, 813-224-1972, or Robert Harris, 813-224-1901, both of First Florida Banks, Inc./
 (BBI FFBK) CO: Barnett Banks, Inc.; First Florida Banks, Inc. ST: Florida IN: FIN SU: TNM


AW-JB -- FL004 -- 1172 05/18/92 09:34 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 18, 1992
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