As Chemical Banking Corp. approaches the six-mont anniversary lof its merger with Manufacturers Hanover, progress reports have been almost universally glowing. Earnings and expense savings are greater than expected, and the company's credit rating is rising.
Now the merger is entering its second crucial stage: The systems integration of its two lead bank subsidiaries occurs on Friday. Chemical must convince consumers and business owners in New York that it can continue to serve them even as it closes some 80 branches over the next few years. It also must continue to find a way to convince employees to accept a new culture that it maintains will integrate the best of both organizations.