Business: Confusion in Justice

One of the biggest Midwest bank mergers in a decade was only three days away. Then the Justice Department rushed into a Chicago court to demand a temporary injunction barring the move. The Government trustbusters were out to prevent the absorption of Chicago's City National Bank & Trust Co. (assets: $385 million) by its neighbor across La Salle Street, the Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Co. (assets: $2.8 billion).

If the object was to shield smaller business, Justice's move seemed to make little sense, since slipping City National might well go under if the merger were blocked. And why the rush?...

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