Citicorp and Travelers Group are planning to close their $70 billion merger by Aug. 1, six weeks before many market watchers had anticipated.
Analysts said the aggressive deadline suggests the approval process for the transaction is running more smoothly than expected, particularly in light of community opposition to the merger.
"They had been talking about September, but it looks like they are flying through the regulatory hurdles," said Diane Glossman, an analyst at Lehman Brothers.
Spokeswomen for both companies confirmed that, internally, the target had been set for the last week in July, contingent upon regulatory approval.
The deal was announced April 6 with much fanfare, but community groups immediately voiced opposition and vowed to block the combination on the grounds that the two companies did not lend adequately in low-income neighborhoods. They also contend that the deal is illegal because it combines insurance underwriting with banking.
Swamped by requests from those community groups, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has scheduled an extra day of public hearings on the merger. Hearings are now slated for Thursday and Friday at the Fed's Manhattan offices.
Citicorp and Travelers have scheduled shareholder votes on the merger for July 22. The deal would create the world's largest financial institution, with $700 billion of assets and offices in 100 countries.
"It's much faster than most people would have thought," said David Berry, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
Analysts also said merger-related charges are expected to be far smaller than those of other recently announced bank megamergers.
Mr. Berry and other analysts said they anticipated a third-quarter charge of $500 million to $800 million for the Citi-Travelers merger, compared with the expected $1.3 billion charge for NationsBank Corp. to acquire BankAmerica Corp.
When they announced their deal, Citi and Travelers executives emphasized that their merger's success relied on cross-marketing products and services rather than the massive cost savings more common with bank-to-bank mergers.
"The overlaps between operations are fairly limited," Ms. Glossman said. "The charge ought not to be as material as other bank mergers."