Bloomberg News

NEW YORK - Credit Suisse First Boston and Salomon Smith Barney Inc., the No. 3 and No. 4 merger advisers, say that they are angling to crack the top ranks of a business dominated by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group.

"We're trying to go to the next level and compete with Morgan Stanley and Goldman," said Don Meltzer, co-head of mergers at Credit Suisse.

Merrill Lynch & Co. has dropped from third to fifth, and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. dropped from fifth to 13th. Both are more than $350 billion behind the leader, Morgan Stanley.

Investment banks compete for leadership in merger advisory work because companies in larger mergers tend to use one of the top five firms. Merger advisers earn an average of 0.17% of a transaction over $20 billion, making it an important source of revenue that requires no capital to be invested.

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