The recent spate of monster merger deals may resolve the perennial debate over whether bigger really means better in banking, according to a growing number of industry watchers.

In fact, bigger means bigger risks, say analysts at Standard & Poor's Corp. Data systems might seize up instead of delivering efficiencies, and errant subsidiaries could strain managerial resources. After dissecting various promises made by banking companies planning mergers, Charles Rauch of S&P's financial institutions group concluded, "The synergies are less than they would appear on paper."

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