Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston Corp. are floating a trial balloon, suggesting to community groups that they may offer $14.6 billion in loans to small-business owners and low-income borrowers as part of their $16 billion merger.

Community activists, however, said they were unsatisfied with the proposal and vowed to continue to fight the merger on antitrust grounds. The deal, announced in March, is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter.

The proposed commitment "is less than what the two banks already do," said Matthew Lee, executive director of Inner City Press/Community on the Move, a Bronx, N.Y.-based advocate for low-income communities.

In a memorandum circulated to community activists last week, Fleet and BankBoston outlined what may become their formal pledge to satisfy Community Reinvestment Act requirements.

The memo says they are considering a five-year plan that includes pledges of $7.5 billion for small-business loans, $4 billion in affordable- housing mortgages, $2 billion toward community development projects, and $1 billion to make consumer loans in low-income areas. Liz Moyer

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