The California Bankers Association is courting the Western League of Savings Institutions in hopes of a merger. Sources at both groups say the merger idea makes a lot of sense. For starters, industry consolidation has cut both groups' membership rolls. Merging would create a huge regional organization with combined member assets of $680 billion. Also the groups already cooperate on many lobbying and continuing education projects.

"A merger would be a natural outgrowth of these cooperative activities," said Larry D. Kurmel, executive director of the California Bankers Association.

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