As Banks Flounder, the Perks Play On


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Published in New York Times on March 26, 2009 by Michelle Leder

For much of the 1990s and the early part of this decade, a small group of men built financial behemoths by snapping up ever larger competitors and adding branches with almost reckless abandon in an attempt to build truly national banks that stretched from Florida to Alaska.

Two North Carolina bankers were among the biggest players in the buildup: Hugh L. McColl Jr., who turned a modest North Carolina bank into what eventually became Bank of America, and Edward E. Crutchfield, who built First Union, which ultimately became Wachovia. Based in Charlotte, the two men and their rivalry helped drive the banking bonanza and made both of them very wealthy.

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