Just when Citizens Banking Corp. appeared to have regained its footing, a new wave of merger-and-acquisition activity has raised the level of competition in Michigan's banking market to new heights and rekindled speculation that the company is a takeover target.

The pending sales of Old Kent Financial Corp. of Grand Rapids to Fifth Third Bancorp and Michigan National Bank of Farmington Hills to ABN Amro would make $8.3 billion-asset Citizens, of Flint, the state's second-largest locally owned bank. But the deals would also mean that two of its toughest competitors would get even tougher, said John W. Ennest, Citizens' vice chairman and chief financial officer. "Old Kent and Michigan National both were very good banks to begin with," Mr. Ennest said. "After these two mergers, they'll probably be even better."

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