WASHINGTON

VETERAN LOBBYISTS have gained an even bigger edge over newcomers now that registration rules force special interests to spell out how much is spent entertaining congressional aides and agency officials - as well as lawmakers. Page 3

A "PROGRAMMING NIGHTMARE" is how a banking trade group official described the Fed's plan for calculating savings account interest during leap years.

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REGIONAL BANKING

BOSTON'S BAYBANKS, joining the rush to single out customers with large balances, has launched a retail package for those with at least $25,000 at the bank. Some of their mortgage balances will count toward that minimum. Page 5

WELLS FARGO is said to be near completing agreements with the regulators on which branches it must sell to clear antitrust hurdles to its acquisition of First Interstate. About $1 billion of deposits is to be sold, but Wells reportedly is hoping to retain the San Diego branches. Page 4

CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs

IDEON GROUP canned embattled chairman and chief executive Paul G. Kahn, after a year of big losses and a price plunge for its stock. Mr. Kahn, 51, had been widely criticized by analysts and stockholders for some risky business ventures. Page 13

AN UPSTART PROCESSING firm, Cartel Network, signed up its first two financial institutions for a network of in-store terminals. The company intends to offer retailers an alternative to bank-owned funds transfer networks. Page 12

COMMUNITY BANKING

TWO CHAIRMEN of Connecticut banks resigned recently amid charges of improper dealings, and a handful of other top officers have been ousted in recent months because poor financial performance. Page 6

WITH GUARANTEES on a big chunk of its student loans in limbo and its nonperforming assets soaring, Illinois' River Forest Bancorp is learning some hard lessons in patience.

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INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

A HANDFUL of banks that launched proprietary mutual funds recently are expected to take advantage of a ruling on publicizing the performance of trust accounts.

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PNC BANK CORP. is responding to the red-hot competition for 401(k) business by enlisting a mutual fund company to spice up its product offerings. PNC's move follows similar actions by three other big banks.

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MORTGAGES:

HARSH WINTER WEATHER didn't prevent the two largest independent mortgage banks from doing booming business during January. North American Mortgage posted a 144% increase in loan applications; Countrywide Credit's servicing portfolio grew 21%.

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TECHNOLOGY:

A DEBATE over transmission standards for electronic communications among mortgage brokers is spotlighting a problem plaguing the industry's efforts to go digital.

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A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION is consistently missing from reports on banks buying new technology, write Patrick Harker and Kathleen McClave: What is the effective payback from these investments?

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FINANCE:

THE NEW CHASE is winning advance praise from platoons of analysts, but not from PaineWebber, which slapped the behemoth-to-be with an "unattractive" investment rating.

Back page

M.A. SCHAPIRO'S research director is resigning in a downsizing and chucking his career in economics. He's aiming for a job as a tour guide in New York City.

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