In 1983, when B.P. "Budge" Sherwood 3d was chief executive of Pacesetter Financial Corp. of Grand Haven, Mich., banks were trading at about half of book value; an expensive deal was 80% of book.

That seemed like a pretty good market when Mr. Sherwood sold his $1 billion-asset banking company to Old Kent Financial Corp. But things have changed in the 14 years since, and Mr. Sherwood has engineered 18 acquisitions for Old Kent, building the Grand Rapids company from $3.5 billion to $13.4 billion of assets.

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