WASHINGTON Industry groups asked Sen. Alfonse D'Amato to back off his bill requiring automatic cancellation of mortgage insurance. Page 3 A case in Florida over the near-dead Retirement CD could jeopardize the industry's authority to sell annuities. Page 3 REGIONAL BANKING Despite interest rate risks, New York's Astoria Financial is convinced that it's best to stay close to its core residential lending business. Page 4 COMMUNITY BANKING An effort to rewrite Hawaii's year-old interstate branching law is pitting the state's two largest banks against its smallest. Page 6 MORTGAGES NationsBank could join in the bidding for Great Western Financial, some securities analysts say. Others say the bank already has its hands full with its Boatmen's acquisition. Page 9 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS LIBERTY Financial has spent years acquiring companies and executives to mount an assault on the bank distribution channel for its mutual funds and annuities. "What we bring to the bank is not only products but really good marketing techniques," says chief executive officer Kenneth R. Leibler. Page 10 SEEDS OF CHANGE Agriculture may not be a growth industry for thousands of rural banks--but someone forgot to tell the executives at Farmers and Merchants Bank of Central California. Page 7 Farmers Exchange Bank in Oklahoma is shedding its identity as an ag lender. It's not the handshake business it used to be, says the president. Page 7 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs CARD FRONTIERS: Certicom plans to use its touted encryption technology on smart cards. Page 12 TECHNOLOGY The urgency bankers felt about digital cash and other newfangled payment systems has waned. Page 21 CORPORATE FINANCE Merrill Lynch plans to lead a $2 billion loan for the purchase of England's Yorkshire Energy. Page 29 MARKET MONITOR More community banks may soon be jumping into the market for trust- preferred securities. Page 30
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