When Newton P.S. Merrill returned to Bank of New York in 1994 to run its trust and investment management unit, he seemed an unlikely choice for the job.

After all, Mr. Merrill's experience in investment management was scanty at best. A veteran commercial lender, Mr. Merrill had spent the past three years running global banking for Bank of Boston. Before that, he toiled more than 20 years in Bank of New York's corporate bank, where he worked his way up to U.S. commercial lending chief.

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