After beating a wholesale retreat from Europe in the 1980s, U.S. banks are back in the market. Only this time, they are taking a far more focused -- and profitable -- approach to doing business.

"All major American banks have gone through the same analysis," remarks Herbert E. Aspbury, general manager in charge of European operations at Chemical Banking Corp. in London. "Most have left the scene completely, and the handful that are left are taking a very targeted approach."

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