Last October, when Norfolk Southern Corp. launched a hostile bid to buy Conrail Inc. for $9 billion in cash, the Norfolk, Va.-based railroad tapped J.P. Morgan & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co.-a commercial and an investment bank-to arrange an $11.5 billion loan.

Chase Manhattan Bank, BankAm-erica Corp., Nations-Bank Corp., and Bank of Nova Scotia had already committed themselves to a $4.8 billion loan to back Richmond, Va.-based CSX Corp.'s $8.4 billion friendly cash and stock offer for Conrail. But Norfolk had no trouble lining up banks of its own.

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