When the competition merges, it creates a unique opportunity to acquire profitable customers. Ironically, most banks fail to capitalize on what may be their best chance to alter market share.

Mergers have become a way of life. In the past 12 months more than 700 banks have merged. The pace may have slowed somewhat in 1999, but it should accelerate again with Y2K technology overhauls well in hand and stock prices at record highs.

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