|Industry||Finance and Insurance|
|Fate||acquired by Bank of America|
|Successor||Bank of America|
Number of employees
FleetBoston Financial was a Boston, Massachusetts–based bank created in 1999 by the merger of Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston. In 2004 it merged with Bank of America; all of its banks and branches were converted to Bank of America.
Fleet was founded in Providence, Rhode Island in 1791 as the Providence Bank by Rhode Island businessman John Brown. It joined the national banking system in 1865 as Providence National Bank. In 1951, it bought Union Trust Company to form Providence Union Bank and Trust Company. Three years later, it bought Industrial Trust Company to form Industrial National Bank. In 1968, it became the leading subsidiary of Industrial National Corporation.
Industrial began diversifying into non-bank financial services in the mid-1970s. To reflect this, it changed its name to Fleet Financial Group in 1982, with the banking subsidiary becoming Fleet National Bank. It then began an aggressive buying spree of banks outside Rhode Island, most notably the Bank of New England in 1991. In 1988, Fleet merged with Albany, New York-based Norstar Bancorp to form Fleet/Norstar Financial Group. The bank continued to operate as Norstar in New York until 1992, when the company readopted the Fleet Financial Group name.
Fleet was already one of the three largest banks in New England, together with Shawmut National Corp. and its largest affiliate Shawmut Bank, and Bank of Boston, yet state and federal regulators allowed Fleet to merge with Shawmut in 1995, creating a major regional bank that held 30% of all deposits in New England. Fleet was now the largest bank in New England and the ninth largest in the United States. Although Fleet was the surviving company, the merged bank was based at Shawmut's old headquarters in Boston.
As a result of the merger with Shawmut, Fleet acquired the naming rights to the newly built Shawmut Center, a sports arena that was to replace the old Boston Garden. The arena therefore opened as the FleetCenter in 1995. After FleetBoston's sale to Bank of America in 2004, the bank chose to give up its naming rights and an announcement was made on March 3, 2005 that the arena would be renamed TD Banknorth Garden (now simply the TD Garden). It is home to the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association and the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League.
Fleet's biggest merger came in 1999, when it acquired BankBoston (which was itself the fruit of a 1996 merger between Bank of Boston and BayBank). The new FleetBoston was the culmination of a series of Boston-area bank mergers that combined several smaller banks into a single large institution. FleetBoston was the seventh-largest bank in the United States, as measured by assets (US$197 billion in 2003). It had almost 50,000 employees, over 20 million customers worldwide and revenues of $12 billion per year. The banking subsidiary operated under the Fleet name, using BankBoston's stylized eagle logo. As a condition for merger, regulators required Fleet to divest 306 New England branches, including 28 to community banks.
In 2000, it acquired New Jersey-based Summit Bancorp (which was actually United Jersey Bank (aka UJB Financial), which had acquired Summit back in 1996). The same year, it sold 278 of its New England branches to Sovereign Bank as a part of the divestiture plan required by regulators to allow the 1999 acquisition of BankBoston.
FleetBoston faced a class-action suit over a "bait and switch" scam where it promised a no-annual fee credit card, only to impose a fee months later. When Bank of America acquired Fleet in 2004, its overall Customer Satisfaction Index (as measured by the University of Michigan), was dragged down from 74 to 72. Bank of America devoted considerable resources to improving its New England branches' reputation for customer service, establishing customer call centers and hiring more tellers per branch.
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