NEW YORK -- An influential group of community activists has accused Manufacturers Hanover Corp. and Chemical Banking Corp. of discrimination, laying the groundwork for a Community Reinvestment Act challenge to the companies' proposed merger.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn, released an analysis Friday of Manufacturers Hanover's mortgage lending record. It said that Manufacturers shows "a clear pattern of preference in lending to white applicants over blacks and nonwhites."

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