DeSpite delays in completing their merger, Conseco Inc. and Kemper Corp. are forging ahead with plans to combine their subsidiaries that market investment products through banks.

Conseco, an insurance concem in Carmel, Ind., had expected to complete its $3 billion purchase of Kemper Corp., a financial services company in Long Grove, Ill., by yearend.

But Conseco has lowered its bid and is rethinking its plans for financing the acquisition, and postponed the closing date until sometime in the first quarter of 1995.

In the meantime, however, plans are progressing for Conseco's investment marketing unit, Bankmark, to be merged into its much larger counterpart, Kemper's Invest Financial Corp. ann.

The combined operation will carry the Invest name, a Conseco spokesman said.

Industry analysts say the approach makes sense, given Invest's larger client base and broadet name recognition among financial institutions. Invest has 240 clients, while Bankmark has 35.

Officials at Conseco said the company has not decided if Merlin Gackle, Invest's president, or Robert Leonard, Bankmark's president, will run the combined operation.

Mr. Gackle, who was named president of Invest early this year, declined to say whether he would stay with the company if he is not given a key role.

Also up in the air is the question of whether Invest will operate from its Tampa, Fla., headquarters, from Bankmark's offices in Morris Plains, N.J., or from some other location.

Mutual fund wholesalers and others close to the investment marketing companies speculate that the operation may be shifted to Conseco's home base outside Indianapolis.

Bankmark's and Invest's headquarters may end up serving as two of four regional Offices, the industry executives say.

The Conseco spokesman declined to comment on these assertions, saying locations and management issues have not yet been decided.

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