Only Hugh McColl would have the nerve to call mergers and acquisitions the "old paradigm" and then turn around two months later and agree to buy a $41 billion-asset banking company.

But that's exactly what Mr. McColl, the tough-talking chairman of NationsBank Corp., did this year when he shook up the industry by agreeing to pay $9.6 billion - a whopping 2.6 times book value - for St. Louis-based Boatmen's Bancshares.

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