Researchers are fascinated with the merger wave. Nearly 3,000 deals -- 2,975 to be exact -- were struck from January 1994 through the end of the first quarter, reducing the number of companies in the banking industry by 20% to 8,721, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

One of the reports highlighted here notes that roughly 5% of commercial banks have been acquired per year since the mid-1980s.

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