With its overtures to Robert Fleming Holdings of the United Kingdom, Chase Manhattan Corp. showed that it ranks among the few top-tier U.S. banking companies that still have the currency and the will to pursue acquisitions as a path to growth.

Chase and Robert Fleming said Thursday that they were in the "early stages of talks" on a possible combination. Word that Chase was discussing a possible purchase of the U.K. investment bank and asset manager were reported earlier in the day by the Financial Times.

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