COMMUNITY BANKING California's Westamerica Bancorp. will close 12 branches of newly acquired Vallicorp Holdings in addition to the two already scheduled to shut. Page 6 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS Charles Schwab and other brokerages draft legions of employees to answer phones when the stock market is under siege, to calm jittery investors. Page 7 CORPORATE FINANCE Banc One and First Chicago NBD are leading a $200 million syndication for Brightpoint, a global distributor of wireless communications equipment. Page 8 Societe Generale hired six fixed-income sales and trading staffers from Union Bank of Switzerland this week. Page 8 MORTGAGES Mortgage insurers began meeting with the New York State Insurance Department to discuss how to clear up the controversy over captive reinsurance. Page 10 Mortgage servicers may soon be using an early warning system to keep jumbo and subprime loans from failing. Page 11 WASHINGTON The Small Business Administration will halve the cap on its 7(a) program loans, to $500,000, starting May 5. Even with the change, the program's $7.8 billion budget is likely to be depleted by mid-August, six weeks before the current fiscal year ends, SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez said. The cap "is intended to dampen the demand in the larger loan range," she said. Page 2 The federal appeals court in Washington rejected a bid by credit unions to add new companies to their fields of membership. Page 2 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs Advanta, MasterCard, and Visa U.S.A. settled a legal dispute over Advanta's plan to market an American Express travel rewards program. Page 13 Metris will issue a MasterCard targeting the four million members of Bally's health clubs. Page 13 TECHNOLOGY The rumored acquisition of Compuserve by America Online could benefit banks. Page 14 Deluxe Electronic Payment Systems of Phoenix has begun offering an outsourcing service for automated clearing house processing. Page 15 MARKET MONITOR Better market conditions have prompted a number of banks to issue trust- preferred securities. Page 22 Though home sales wilt when interest rates rise, investors have stuck by the market's two largest mortgage stocks--Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Back page
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