Last August, when Mellon Bank Corp. made its ground-breaking purchase of mutual fund manager Dreyfus Corp., critics predicted the banking company would botch the deal.

The $1.8 billion price was said to be so high that the bank company couldn't get a good return. The timing was said to be bad, since Mellon got a bond-fund specialist in a year of spectacular bond losses. And culture clashes were reported, as reputedly stodgy bankers took over a marketing- driven investment house.

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