BANKING: The New Champ

A few weeks ago in San Francisco, gruff, bearish Amadeo Peter Giannini, 75, "retired" boss of the Bank of America, was attending a board meeting. As Senior Vice Chairman Francis Shaw Baer droned through figures describing the bank's condition, old "A.P." fidgeted like a school boy with two fingers raised. Suddenly he jumped up, pounded the table and roared: "For God's sake, Franny, give 'em the big news!"

The big news : A.P. was sure that Bank of America had become the world's biggest private bank; it had passed Manhattan's Chase National Bank in the third quarter. But old...

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