Bank of New York Wednesday launched a $23.2 billion hostile bid for Mellon Bank after the two sides failed to negotiate a merger agreement. But Mellon said it is not for sale.

The proposed combined bank, which would be called Mellon Bank of New York Co., would have $106.4 billion in combined assets. While a merger would make them a bigger player, the combined banks would still rank far behind industry behemoths that would be created in a spate of deals announced earlier this month.Although the bid was unsolicited and an earlier attempt to merge was spurned, Bank of New York chairman Thomas Renyi said he still wants to negotiate. "I wish to assure you, however, that we are only interested in pursuing this transaction on a consensual basis," Renyi wrote Mellon's chairman, Frank Cahouet.

But Mellon firmly rejected the offer.

"We are not in negotiations with Bank of New York or anyone else. We are not interested in pursuing a transaction - we are not for sale," said a Mellon statement.

Both banks have storied histories. Bank of New York was founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton and is the nation's oldest bank operating under its original name. Mellon was founded in 1869 as Mellon and Sons, and financed the growth of industrial powers such as Westinghouse, Gulf Oil, Alcoa and Bethlehem Steel.

Bank of New York is racing to keep up with rivals that are broadening their geographical presence.