Vernon W. Hill, chairman of Commerce Bancorp, has been on an acquisition binge for the past two years. But the objects of his affection aren't other banks-they're independent agencies that sell mostly property and casualty insurance.

Commerce, a $4.3 billion-asset company based in Cherry Hill, N.J., has bought four such agencies since August 1996. And Mr. Hill expects at least three more deals by yearend.

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