Imagine that your chief executive officer summons you to a meeting of the bank's senior managers. At precisely 8 a.m., he or she strides in and, totally expressionless, steps to the podium and begins to speak to a room that is suddenly very quiet.

"Good morning. I appreciate your coming on such short notice. The news I bare is important to each of you in this company. For the last several months, we have been considering the market forces of the banking industry--and the strategic direction we should take for the benefit of our shareholders. It has become clear to us that if we are to survive as a profitable competitor, we must be a much larger company.

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