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Published: Friday, 3/12/2010

National City to close in April, reopen as PNC

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Early next month, the area banking scene will have a significant change - at least outwardly.

On April 9, the area's 24 National City Bank branches in northwest Ohio and Monroe County, Mich., will close and reopen on April 12 as branches of PNC Bank, the Pittsburgh company that bought National City in 2008.

Blue and orange PNC Bank signs at all branches will be the most obvious change to area residents, but those already-erected signs won't be displayed until April 9, as tarps carrying the National City name cover the new signs.

"We've made eight acquisitions over the last five years, and this is our third wave of converting over National City branches. This is operating like clockwork," said Brian Bucher, PNC regional president in Toledo.

PNC Bank, which is owned by PNC Financial Services Group, has plans to play a prominent role in the area, he said.

It plans an aggressive marketing campaign and will introduce new banking products to its customers almost immediately.

One is a "Virtual Wallet" concept to allow banking from mobile devices. "It's really a Gen-Y product that gives anyone applications to do banking from their iPhone or other something similar," Mr. Bucher said.

Another is electronic "danger day" alerts that send messages to a customer's cell phone or wireless device if an account is close to being overdrawn.

Richard Lewis, executive vice president and market manager for PNC retail banking in northern Ohio, said changes include redesigning of local bank branch interiors and adding flat-screen TVs to help relieve boredom while customers wait in line. Also, when the bank shuts for the weekend on April 9, it plans to have employees outside on Saturday in case some National City customers missed news of the changeover, Mr. Lewis said.

He said the transition should be seamless for nearly all customers. Consumers will receive new check cards in early April, National City checks can be used until they run out, loan terms will not change, and existing ATM cards will work on all of PNC's ATMs.

The bank has acquired 21 northwest Ohio branches in Lucas, Henry, Wood, Fulton, and Williams counties, two other drive-through branches, and 24 ATMs. There are three branches in Michigan in Monroe County, but Mr. Bucher said PNC has plans to expand in southeast Michigan.

In downtown Toledo, the company has filed for permits to place a blue eco-friendly lighted PNC sign atop the National City Bank Building at 405 Madison Ave., where the bank's regional headquarters is.

The new sign should be in place this year and will be visible from all directions, Mr. Bucher said. He is a former vice president and manager in National City's Northcoast market.

The bank plans will look at other opportunities for exposure, such as naming rights to buildings or stadiums, he said. PNC wants to be more active in the community and will pay employees up to 40 hours annually for volunteer activities, he added.

"We want to be very connected to this community," Mr. Bucher said.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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