Everyday folks shrug off deal

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Additional comments and reaction to the Mellon Bank sale from residents quoted in this story.

Varick Benson

Joe Greiber

Louise Kramer

Mark Ciriani

Chris Pascuzzi

The proposed sale of Mellon Financial to the Bank of New York may be big news in the financial world, but the initial response of everyday Pittsburghers interviewed Downtown yesterday amounted to a collective shrug.

In a reaction that typified those of people interviewed, Vilsack Benson, of the East End, said, "I never really did business with Mellon."

And no wonder. Mr. Benson, a barber, is the type of hardly affluent customer that Mellon gave up five years ago when it got out of retail banking to focus its energy and attention on financial services for corporations, institutions and the wealthy.

Others saw the deal as characteristic of a trend toward growth through consolidation. "It's very symptomatic of what you see in the banking industry today," said Mark Ciriani, of the South Side.

Joe Grieber, also of the South Side, said the move toward bigger and bigger banks "makes you wonder about the future of smaller banking institutions."

Louise Kramer, of the North Hills, says the trend can't be good for the average customer. "When the banks are bought out by larger banks, it doesn't help the consumer" because it can result in consumers having fewer choices.

And for Chris Pascuzzi, of Stanton Heights, the merger illustrates a lost opportunity.

"I think Pittsburgh missed an opportunity a while ago to become a banking center, like a Charlotte [N.C.]," he said.

For everyday Pittsburghers, the only good news seems to lie in Mellon Chief Executive Officer Robert Kelly's declaration that the merger may produce 1,200 to 2,000 additional jobs in the area over the next three to five years -- though cuts will come first, possibly more than 600 of 6,100 it employs locally.

Still, the fact that it's pledging to grow here over time is "a good thing," Mr. Benson said. "You can't go wrong with the jobs."

Elwin Green can be reached at egreen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1969.


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