WASHINGTON:

THE SUPREME COURT, delaying a case that will determine whether banks can be forced to disclose exam reports, has asked the solicitor general to weigh in. The case is Proctor & Gamble's suit against Bankers Trusts over derivatives losses; P&G wants to use the exam reports against the bank.

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AFTER MONTHS OF DELAY, new suspicious-activity report forms for use by banks should be released within two weeks, government officials said.

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REGIONAL BANKING:

SANWA, Great Western, and Union are among the California banks that started the new year with a flurry of executive changes.

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STATE STREET BOSTON's new CEO says the changes he'll be making this year will be more tactical than strategic. "We like our strategy the way it is," David Spina said. "My focus will be custody, custody, custody." Page 5

COMMUNITY BANKING:

MARGIE H. MULLER, Maryland's bank commissioner for 13 years, has been fired after fighting to protect her department from drastic budget cuts. Page 6

A BAD HIRE can hurt morale, public acceptance, and an entire banking culture; a good one can energize your organization. Paul Nadler offers help and seeks more in telling which is which.

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TECHNOLOGY:

AS J.P. MORGAN considers farming out some operations, some managers are reportedly worried about losing staff members who would rather not work for a technology service vendor.

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DECISION-SUPPORT software from American Management Systems has helped Bank of Montreal reduce mortgage approval time from at least 24 hours to as little as 12 minutes.

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COMPLIANCE:

THE TOP THREE producers of compliance software - Bankers Systems, CFI Proservices, and Formation Technologies - promise 1996 will be the year the industry leaders distinguish themselves from the wannabes. Page 8

SPARE TIME is a foreign idea to Richard Insley. By day he's chief compliance officer at Signet Bank in Virginia; nights and weekends he runs APR Systems, a one-man compliance software company. Page 8

MORTGAGES:

PREFERRED MORTGAGE of Irvine, Calif., is a guppy in a shark tank, but it has sharpened its teeth. The privately owned company plans to grow into a shark itself, and hopes to dominate the western states' home equity market in the next few years. Page 12

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS:

CORESTATES is getting the jump on consolidating Meridian's proprietary funds with its own in advance of the banks' April merger. Page 13

"GET IN FAST, get in early, and partner up with the strongest bank money manager in the area" is the formula Lacy B. Herrmann has relied on a simple formula to carve out a niche in the mutual fund business for New York-based Acquila Management.

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CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs:

GENERAL ELECTRIC and the airline industry's trade association are launching a cobranded corporate charge card program with American Airlines.

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VISA AND MASTERCARD will each introduce commercials during NBC's Super Bowl XXX broadcast Jan. 28, but neither will be tied to professional football.

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FINANCE:

FLORIDA-BASED Barnett Banks earned $138 million in the fourth quarter, 10% more than a year earlier. Behind the gain: a surge in acquisition-related fee income and a wider net interest margin.

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CITICORP was expected to issue up to $1 billion in credit-card- backed securities this week, a move that could launch the asset-backed securities market toward another record-shattering year.

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