When Zions Bancorp and First Security Corp. were ordered to sell 68 branches to win approval for their merger, Utah community banker Howard G. Holt thought he saw an ideal opportunity to expand First National Bank of Layton, his $130 million-asset institution.

His optimism vanished as soon as he learned that the Department of Justice had ordered the branches to be sold only in large clusters, an arrangement that effectively shut out his bank.

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