permission to acquire Piper Jaffray, a Minneapolis-based brokerage firm. U.S. Bancorp will merge Piper Jaffray into U.S. Bancorp Investments, a section 20 subsidiary that currently underwrites government securities. The combined unit will continue to offer Piper Jaffray's brokerage, investment advisory, and private placement services. The Fed said the merger would have little effect on competition for brokerage and underwriting services in the Minneapolis area. A U.S. Bancorp spokeswoman said shareholders of the two firms will meet separately on April 30 to vote on the deal. Mergers between commercial and investment banking firms have become increasingly common since the Fed last year more than doubled to 25% the proportion of revenue section 20 units may earn underwriting corporate securities. For instance, Bankers Trust Co. acquired Alex. Brown, BankAmerica Corp. bought Robertson Stephens, and First Union Corp. merged with Wheat First Securities.

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