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Sanwa Bank, Tokai Bank and Toyo Trust & Banking Co. jointly announced Wednesday that they have agreed in principle to integrate their operations under a single holding company to be formed next April.

Sanwa and Tokai — two of the top nine “city” commercial banks with urban branch networks — divulged a plan on June 15 to merge in April 2002 after combining their operations next April.

The three-way accord calls for Toyo Trust to turn over control of its deposit and lending operations to the bank to be created through the Sanwa-Tokai merger. The new bank will hand over its asset-management operations to Toyo Trust, a longtime specialist in the area.

In mid-June, Asahi Bank, a city bank that had expressed willingness to join the merger under a holding company, bailed out, saying it could not give up management of its own organization.

Wednesday’s announcement was made amid the ongoing reconsolidation among major Japanese banks, which have combined into four gigantic groups.

The biggest planned is the Mizuho Financial Group, which comprises Fuji Bank, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank and the Industrial Bank of Japan. Sumitomo Bank and Sakura Bank earlier announced a plan to conduct an outright, irrevocable merger.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Nippon Trust Bank, and Mitsubishi Trust & Banking Corp., will operate under a common holding-company formula.

The newly disclosed integration plan of Sanwa, Tokai and Toyo Trust would put the combined assets of the three in fourth place at 82.60 trillion yen.

“The three banks have struck the basic agreement on the basis of a shared desire to work together to provide innovative comprehensive financial services to customers,” the three banks said in a statement. Hideo Ogasawara, president of Tokai Bank, will assume the presidency of the holding company, whose name has yet to be determined, they said.

Kaneo Muromachi, president of Sanwa Bank, will chair the board of the holding firm, while Shunroku Yokosuka, president of Toyo Trust, will be deputy chairman.

After the three banks submit their books for auditing by an outside auditor, the number of shares in the holding company allocated to shareholders in the three will be determined, they said.

The integration of divisions among the three according to their expertise would help maximize post-integration profitability for the banks and the holding company, they said.

Sanwa, Tokai and Toyo Trust will also cut jobs to be made redundant by the integration, they said. They did not specify a number.

Osaka-based Sanwa has assets totaling 45.19 trillion yen, while Tokai, based in Nagoya, has assets worth 29.22 trillion yen. Sanwa has a 13,000-strong workforce and Tokai employs 10,750 people.

Toyo Trust, with a staff of 4,400, has an asset base of 19.81 trillion yen, including assets in both its trust and banking accounts.