More than in almost any other industry, banks depend on the value of their shares as currency for mergers and acquisitions. Recently, the combined market value of the nation's 100 largest banks has neared $450 billion.

James J. McDermott Jr., president of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., the New York investment banking firm that specializes in banking securities, recently assessed how banks, armed with this market capital, may expand.

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