SAN FRANCISCO -- During BankAmerica Corp.'s financial crisis of the mid-1980s, the corporate banking portfolio was a disaster zone. Bad loans to big U.S. borrowers cost the San Francisco company hundreds of millions.

Just a decade later, business with major corporate customers has quietly become one of the biggest money-makers at the nation's second-biggest bank company. Gains from domestic wholesale banking topped the earnings list when BankAmerica disclosed its most important profit centers earlier this year.

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