When it comes to the merger of NationsBank Corp. and BankAmerica Corp., the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond has been ground zero.

The Richmond Fed, the reserve bank responsible for NationsBank, began reviewing the $60 billion deal three months ago, with an eye to making a recommendation to the board of governors. It is a detailed, exhaustive process, and the 12 Fed banks are honing it as the industry's merger whirl accelerates.

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