The total price tag of newly announced bank mergers soared to $16.5 billion in the third quarter, propelled by NationsBank Corp.'s agreement with Boatmen's Bancshares.

The price of St. Louis-based Boatmen's - $9.75 billion, or 2.7 times book value - helped keep deal prices overall at a high level. Thrift buyout prices also were rich after several major deals.

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