After a stellar year in 1996 for its Evergreen Keystone mutual funds, First Union Corp. went looking for an encore. Aided by a soaring stock market, the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking company found it in 1997.

Led by the successful consolidation of its purchase of Keystone Investments Inc. of Boston, an increasing volume of sales of its mutual funds, and the addition of new funds, Evergreen Keystone grew from $27 billion in fund assets at the start of this year to $40 billion this month.

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