CEO pledges PNC will remain disciplined

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PNC Financial Services Group CEO James Rohr reiterated Tuesday that it was a challenging time for banks amid a struggling economy, stubbornly high unemployment and weak loan demand nationwide.

Still, the region's biggest bank will remain disciplined and resist making "stupid," risky loans, Mr. Rohr said during a Barclays Capital investor conference in New York City.

"We expect to see some of our peers increase their interest rate risk and credit risk as a way of enhancing revenue," he said. "We didn't take those risks a few years ago when many others did and we're certainly not going to take them now."

PNC won't "waste shareholders' money making stupid loans," he said.

Mr. Rohr said PNC's balance sheet was strong and that the bank would have no trouble meeting higher capital requirements agreed to by international banking regulators Sunday as a buffer against another worldwide financial meltdown.

He repeated that he was comfortable with analysts' earnings estimates for PNC for the second half of the year.

Mr. Rohr said the bank would focus on building fee-based businesses such as treasury management, and cross-selling different products offered by PNC and the recently acquired National City franchise.

PNC has plans to expand its branch banking business in certain markets, including Chicago; Washington, D.C.; central New Jersey; and south Florida, Mr. Rohr said. He said the bank would consider strategic acquisitions in those markets.

"If there's a bank for sale that fits the market and we can take the costs out ... we would consider that," he said. "But frankly, banks are sold, not bought. I think we'll just have to wait and see."

Patricia Sabatini: or 412-263-3066.


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