American Century Investments, 45% owned by J.P. Morgan & Co., is probably the only interested party for which the merger with Chase Manhattan Corp. is not a pure wholesale-banking play.

Instead, for the Kansas City, Mo., mutual fund company, the Chase/J.P. Morgan merger is all about retail - the possibility of distributing American Century's funds and retirement programs through Chase's branch network and to its vast roster of consumer and middle-market business customers.

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