NationsBank Corp. stunned the investment community Friday with its $9.6 billion agreement to acquire Boatmen's Bancshares of St. Louis.

Ending the bank megamerger lull with a bang, NationsBank elicited amazement - and a storm of criticism - for a price that was 1.4 times Boatmen's stock, 2.6 times book value, and about 15 times anticipated earnings next year.

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