One month after buying Mercantile Bancorp., Firstar Corp. is preparing to merge the St. Louis banking company's asset management unit into its own advisory company.

Firstar Investment Research and Management Co. will absorb Mercantile's advisory arm, Mississippi Valley Advisors. The combined unit would manage $34.6 billion of assets -- $25.1 billion of assets from Firstar and $9.5 billion from Mercantile.

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