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Commercial National Bank (CNB), the earliest forerunner of NationsBank, was formed in 1874.
In 1957, Commercial National merged with its longtime rival in Charlotte, American Trust Co., forming American Commercial Bank. American Commercial changed its name to North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) in 1960 after acquiring of Greensboro-based Security National Bank. In the early 70s, it reorganized as the leading subsidiary of NCNB Corporation.
NCNB expanded beyond North Carolina for the first time in 1982, when it purchased Lake City, Florida-based First National Bank of Lake City, its first interstate expansion. Hugh McColl became CEO of NCNB the following year.
In 1988, NCNB's assets grew to $60 billion after it bought the failed First RepublicBank Corporation of Dallas, Texas from the FDIC. First RepublicBank Corporation had entered FDIC receivership after filing bankruptcy in March, and was the largest FDIC bank failure in history.
By that time, NCNB had become associated with "mergers, acquisitions, expansion, integration". From 1989 to 1992, NCNB acquired over 200 thrifts and community banks, many of these through the Resolution Trust program. Favorable terms, with the FDIC assuming most of the loan portfolios and absorbing mark-to-market losses, allowed NCNB to expand profitably, and a cost-cutting culture improved margins.
NCNB became NationsBank in 1991 after acquiring Atlanta-based C&S/Sovran Corp. Following the merger, the Bank's assets grew to $118 billion.
In July 1992, Nationsbank agreed to invest $200 million in Maryland National Corporation for a 16 percent nonvoting stake and an option to buy the whole company, which it subsequently executed in February 1993.
In March 1993, NationsBank acquired Chicago Research and Trading Group, expanding into derivatives and dramatically increasing foreign exchange trading.
In September 1995, NationsBank acquired BankSouth for $1.6 billion in stock. The deal gave NationsBank a stronger presence in the Atlanta banking market. 
In 1996, NationsBank acquired St. Louis-based Boatmen's Bancshares for $9.6 billion. The combined bank became the largest in the American south, with assets of $225 billion, and 2,600 branches stretching from North Carolina to New Mexico.
The following year, NationsBank acquired Florida's largest bank, Jacksonville-based Barnett Bank, for $15.5 billion, growing the company's total assets to $284 billion.
In June 1997, NationsBank acquired Montgomery Securities in a $1.2 billion transaction. Montgomery was integrated into the firm's existing broker-dealer, NationsBanc Capital Markets, and the combined subsidiary was renamed NationsBanc Montgomery Securities.
In 1998, it acquired BankAmerica Corporation, San Francisco, California, and the whole unit took on the name of Bank of America. With this merger, all of NationsBank's holdings, including some of the tallest buildings in the nation (like Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta and the Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte) took Bank of America's name. BankAmerica's broker-dealer, BancAmerica Robertson Stephens, was integrated into NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, and the combined subsidiary was renamed Banc of America Securities. Headquarters for the new enterprise were established in Charlotte, North Carolina.