In 1994, the long-awaited push for full interstate banking legislation became a reality. But after years of efforts, it was greeted with mostly yawns. That may change by September of this year (when the law takes effect) as new alliances begin forming that are impossible today.

Although the swift passage of the legislation was greeted almost as a nonevent, no one could really downplay the significance of what has happened. The door is at last open for mergers that would create coast-to- coast banking giants with the prospects of lower cost structures and product lines that can more effectively compete with the nonbanks.

While the United States is in no danger of being underbanked anytime soon, Darwinian forces have been at work for years. In the last decade, credit quality thinned the number of institutions. Today, the push for geographic diversity and technology-induced cost savings, and a rethinking of financial services delivery are driving the consolidation.

Last year was a busy one. While some big names like Continental and Worthen agreed to sell out, the biggest news was the shrinkage at the bottom of the banking food chain. In large numbers, independent banks decided that a premium price was a better alternative to competition and regulation.

In these 28 pages, we look back at the trends of the last year and look ahead at 1995. Putting together the report that you hold in your hands is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: it has numerous pieces and requires more than one set of hands to assemble.

The American Banker's 1995 Mergers and Acquisition Report was the collaborative effort of the newspaper's finance section and SNL Securities, the leading provider of data on the bank and thrift M&A market.

We owe much thanks to SNL president Reid Nagle, Ed Dillon, and John Minor. They contributed opinions and late nights assembling the many rankings you see in these pages.

On our own staff, much of the credit goes to finance editor Steve Kleege, who shepherded into print the numerous pieces of written analysis on the M&A market. Staff members Gordon Matthews, Dean Tomasula, Dan Dunaief, and Dan Kaplan, our M&A reporter, played key roles. Also essential to our efforts was the dedication of Matthew Mulqueen, our managing editor for production.

We hope you find it useful and invite your thoughts as we plan a midyear 1995 report to be published July 20.

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