LONDON -- U.S. banks may finally get their wish this year for interstate banking, but the does not mean there will be an immediate flurry of big bank mergers.

Top bankers attending the International Monetary Conference in London last week did not seem in a rush to go on a spending spree across state lines.

They said high prices would keep their focus on small acquisitions to fill in gaps in current markets, on cheaper nonbanking purchases such as mortgage companies, and on wringing cost savings from consolidating operations. None predicted a rush of deals.

BankAmerica Corp. chairman Richard Rosenberg said an interstate bill will pass in 1994 but probably won't let banks cross state lines for 18 months to three years.

"Presumably the first possible manifestation of the bill will be that after signing we will be able to take deposits in other states where we have offices," he said.

Usually active acquirer John McCoy, Banc One Corp.'s chairman, does not expect a lot of large bank deals in the next year because prices are too high.

Others, such as officials at Cleveland-based Keycorp, agreed that high premiums would keep attention focused on other issues.

"This is a good environment for us to complete our systems integration and focus on fill-in acquisitions," said Robert Gillespie, Keycorp's president.

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