As the takeover battle among France's biggest banks moves toward a climax, it appears that the government will get what it wanted-a three-way merger that will create the world's largest bank.

This week, France's central bank gave up its efforts to mediate among Banque Nationale de Paris and the two banks it is trying to buy: Societe Generale and Groupe Paribas. Both target banks are fighting BNP's hostile bid and are seeking to merge with each other.

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