New England offered slim pickings for investment banks in 1994, as mergers and acquisitions activity slowed significantly from previous years.

Of all the regions in the country, only the Southwest had fewer deals.

While Goldman Sachs & Co. and Salomon Brothers Inc. claimed top honors among New England investment banks, they participated in only one deal: Fleet Financial Corp.'s purchase of NBB Bancorp in New Bedford, Mass.

The $447.5 million purchase far outshined any other deal in the region. Goldman represented Providence, R.I.-based Fleet and Salomon represented NBB.

Wertheim Schroder & Co. ranked third with two deals for Bank of Boston. The firm advised the bank's Vermont unit on its $198.5 million sale of Casco Northern Bank in Portland, Maine, to Keycorp, and the parent company in its $118 million purchase of Pioneer Financial Co-Op Bank.

Tucker, Anthony & RL Day and BEI Golembe, a subsidiary of EDS Management Consulting Services, were the most active firms with four deals each.

Notably, one of the larger deals in the region appears on the verge of collapse.

Shawmut National Corp.'s $172 million deal for Northeast Federal Corp. looks to be falling apart as Shawmut's stock price has been well below the collar - or preset price that would kill the deal - for more than month. And neither side has indicated it will renegotiate the deal.

Morgan Stanley & Co. advised Shawmut, while Lehman Brothers advised Northeast Federal.

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