TO PERK UP its annual Bank Card Conference, the ABA has broadened the scope - even inviting nonbank rivals to participate in seminars at the event next month. But Keith Coughey, who heads the trade group's bank card executive committee, denies the updating is a reaction "to any 'change or perish' feedback we may have gotten.'" Page 16


IN A MOVE that will triple its branch network in Argentina, Bank of Boston acquired 93 offices and $200 million of assets from the failed Banco Integrado Departmental. Page 6

SUMITOMO BANK's California unit has taken the unusual step of hiring an American who is not of Asian descent to run its retail branches. Page 6


FACED WITH a shrinking client base, Rhode Island Corporate Federal Credit Union is weighing a merger with New York's Empire Corporate Federal Credit Union, industry sources said. Page 10


SEEKING TO SLASH overhead and boost customer service, a Vermont bank holding company is planning a four-month restructuring that will eliminate almost one-third of the company's staff and disperse many employees to branch sites. Page 12


The biggest news in a busy 30 days on the mortgage M&A front has been an agreement by Mellon to buy Metmor Financial from Metropolitan Life for $165 million. And an even bigger deal by an insurance company is in the offing: the sale of Prudential's mortgage unit to either a single buyer or a group. Page 13


BARNETT BANKS and First Union - the banks with the most assets in Florida - have taken the first steps to directly market annuities in the state, now that regulators have given them the green light. Page 15


SEEKING INVESTORS eager to profit from the nascent electronic-commerce business, Checkfree Corp. announced last week that it is planning an initial public offering of stock. Page 18


BANKERS, hard-pressed to increase revenue, are gaining more of an appetite for a business they have traditionally shunned: subprime auto lending. Back page


LENDING AND INVESTING by the Federal Home Loan banks rose sharply in the 12 months ended June 30, with assets up 33% over the year earlier, according to Federal Housing Finance Board data. Page 4

A NEW STUDY suggests that minorities do not negotiate as well as whites whether they are haggling over the price of a new car or the interest rate on the loan - prompting an expert to warn that banks whose agents consistently charge minorities higher rates could be opening themselves up to federal discrimination charges. Page 2

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