J. Christopher Flowers' precision-drill banking team at Goldman, Sachs & Co. will long remember the summer of 1991 - in nightmares. Three of the biggest banking mergers in history were announced, and Goldman, the nation's preeminent investment bank, was involved in just one of them.

Mr. Flowers, 34, has little to say about the firm's absence from Bank-America Corp.'s marriage with Security Pacific Corp. and NCNB Corp.'s successful courtship of C&S/Sovran Corp. He can, after all, brag about Goldman's role as adviser to Chemical Banking Corp. on its $2.3 billion merger with Manufacturers Hanover Corp.

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