National City Corp.'s stock has plummeted 14% since the bank agreed in October to buy Merchants National Corp., Indianapolis, for a hefty $564 million. It's up to Vincent A. DiGirolamo to prove the Clevelandbased holding company won't be overpaying.

Mr. DiGirolamo was recently put in charge of a team whose mandate is to slash Merchant's annual operating costs by $30 million, or 15%, within the next two years. His goal is to raise Merchants' profitability to a 1.1% return on assets from an anemic 0.68%.

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