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FIRST INTERSTATE SERVES CUSTOMERS FOLLOWING CLOSURE OF INDEPENDENCE BANK

 FIRST INTERSTATE SERVES CUSTOMERS FOLLOWING CLOSURE
 OF INDEPENDENCE BANK
 LOS ANGELES, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Willison joined First Interstate branch personnel Saturday morning at First Interstate's Encino branch in welcoming, serving and -- in many cases -- successfully converting Independence Bank customers into First Interstate customers, in an unprecedented 1 1/2-day effort. First Interstate's Encino, Calif., branch was one of 12 "designated" offices serving as "Paying Agents" for customers of Independence Bank, which was closed by the FDIC on Jan. 30, 1992.
 The extraordinarily tight timeframe was new to both First Interstate and the FDIC. Usually when an insolvent bank is seized, it occurs at the close of business Friday and the institutions work through the weekend to get ready to give customers access to their funds by Monday morning. Also, the seized institution usually reopens temporarily the following Monday, under on-site FDIC supervision.
 But without a buyer for Independence Bank waiting in the wings, the California superintendent of banks opted instead to close Independence Bank on a weekday and give its customers access to their funds again -- via First Interstate -- on the very next day.
 First Interstate was provided with less than 24 hours to devise and implement adequate staffing levels, account procedures and customized promotions prior to the delivery by the FDIC of account records and prior to the arrival of the first Independence customers. Those 24 hours were hectic, particularly since the bank recognized that the Jan. 31 "welcome" date coincided with payroll disbursement days and the last day of the month -- dates which are typically very busy at the branch level.
 "Working shoulder-to-shoulder, late into each evening, and under pressurized circumstances," stated Willison, "our branch and headquarters employees went into high gear to prepare for this ambitious event." "Equally important," stated Willison, "we really went the 'extra mile' to welcome Independence customers to First Interstate. Our branches established special extended hours late into Friday evening and all day Saturday, streamlined procedures, reduced or eliminated fees and developed several promotions designed to encourage Independence customers to permanently entrust their accounts with us." Added Willison, "We believe that First Interstate Bank was selected to serve Independence Bank customers due to our long-standing reputation for integrity, our quality customer service and our extensive branch network. We devoted much time and energy to providing customers of Independence Bank with uninterrupted access to their funds and to banking services, and we look forward to providing them with First Interstate's 'extra mile' service once they become regular First Interstate customers."
 Early results indicate that these efforts were paying off, as significant numbers of Independence Bank customers converted their accounts to First Interstate accounts.
 Customers were usually patient and cooperative -- despite lengthy lines at some branches. Customers were pleased with the customized package of special promotions developed by First Interstate to encourage Independence Bank customers to stay. These included three month's free personal checking, one free order of 200 designer checks and a one-year fee waiver for a small-sized safe deposit box and on a new First Interstate MasterCard or Visa credit card.
 "First Interstate has been gratified to play an instrumental role in assisting the FDIC to maintain the integrity of the banking system," said First Interstate's Willison.
 First Interstate Bank of California is the principal subsidiary of First Interstate Bancorp (NYSE: I), a banking company which utilizes almost 1,100 domestic offices and 31 international offices in 17 countries to serve consumers and business customers. First Interstate Bank of California serves customers statewide through 333 offices.
 -0- 2/6/92
 /CONTACT: Cheryl Friedling of First Interstate Bank, 213-614-3100/
 (I) CO: First Interstate Bank ST: California IN: FIN SU:


DM-JL -- LA026 -- 7834 02/06/92 15:07 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 6, 1992
Words:620
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