Less than two months after the merger of Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston Corp., the northeastern giant created by the deal is unleashing one of its acquisition prizes: the West Coast equities specialist Robertson Stephens.

Not that FleetBoston Financial Corp. is planning to sell the investment bank. Rather, the $185 billion-asset banking company has decided to take an even more hands-off approach to Robertson Stephens than the firm's previous string of parent companies, to avoid stifling the unit.

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