In this Year of the Deal, Edward E. Crutchfield Jr. of First Union Corp. made one of the first bold moves, if not quite the biggest.

In any other year, the announcement of the $5.4 billion megamerger with First Fidelity Bancorp. would have vaulted its protagonist automatically into Banker of the Year consideration. But it was not just acquisitiveness that placed Mr. Crutchfield, 54, among a select few who truly personified this eventful year in banking.

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