The Society-Keycorp collaboration has provoked great skepticism, but Robert W. Gillespie and Victor J. Riley Jr. have introduced a new dimension into the consolidation of the U.S. banking industry.

Mr. Gillespie's and Mr. Riley's much-touted merger of equals will form the nation's 10th-largest banking company, with $58 billion of assets and nearly 1,400 offices spanning 18 states.

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