The official departure last Friday of BankAmerica Corp. president David A. Coulter was the latest and most obvious example of a little-spoken truth about bank mergers.

Chief executive officers of combining institutions-in this case, Mr. Coulter of the old BankAmerica and Hugh L. McColl Jr. of NationsBank Corp.- invariably share the limelight at merger announcements and talk amicably about a division of responsibilities. Mr. Coulter was even put in line to succeed Mr. McColl.

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