Of the many challenges confronting banking today, three are of surpassing importance. They are: (1) raising the unsatisfactory revenue growth in many business lines; (2) capitalizing on the scale economies available in many specialty businesses; and (3) reinvigorating the lagging retail franchise.

For many banks, meeting these three challenges necessitates formal mergers with other banks or nonbanks. Clearly, however, formal merger is not the only way to cut costs, raise revenues, and acquire the wherewithal to make investments in new products.

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