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More mergers in the US...

There have been so many bank acquisitions in the US in the past few weeks it is tempting to think that the financial mergers & acquisition boom must now be over. Simply, it seems there are few suitable banks or investment banks left to buy. In truth, the acquisition wave has only just begun.

The recent acquisitions have been mostly predictable. It was hardly a surprise that a big European universal bank like Swiss Bank Corporation would want to buy a prestigious (but relatively small) investment bank such as Dillon Read. Last month's purchase of Oppenheimer by CIBC Wood Gundy was unusual only in that most observers predicted it also would be bought by a European institution, rather than by a Canadian one.

There are a few more rather predictable deals to come. On the acquirer side, ING seems unlikely to rest until it has found an interesting purchase. Other big European banks - ABN Amro, Deutsche Bank - could be buyers. Among the targets: DLJ and Hambrecht & Quist.

But it's when the obvious deals are all done that things could start to get interesting. Wall Street is abuzz with rumours of surprising tie-ups.

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