FleetBoston: Bait?

Talk is spreading that the company may be a target for a top-tier bank. Also featured: Scholastic and Conoco

FleetBoston Financial (FBF ), with assets of $202 billion, has become the eighth-largest U.S. financial holding company and the dominant bank in New England--mainly through acquisitions. Now, there is buzz that it may be a target of Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, or Wells Fargo. FleetBoston was formed by the 1999 merger of Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston. Then in March, 2001, FleetBoston acquired New Jersey's leader, Summit Bancorp. Behind the acquisitions is CEO Terence Murray, who will step down at yearend, as prearranged, to make way for Charles Gifford, head of BankBoston, as the next CEO. Murray opposed selling FleetBoston, but Gifford, say some pros, could be more amenable.

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