Covance Inc.'s assistant treasurer Suzanne D'Amico-Sharp was dismayed. After five years, her company's principal cash management bank decided to call it a day. The reason the bank took a hike? It had just quit the $850 million drug development company's credit group, and it no longer saw enough bang for the buck in Covance's cash management business.

D'Amico-Sharp found a replacement, but it wasn't easy. "There are a lot fewer banks with serious cash management offerings now than there were five years ago," she says.

More banking-consolidation blues? Yes, but there's a lot more to it than that. With the notable exception of a handful of heavyweights with sufficient economies of scale and technology to make it work, banks just don't find cash management as appealing as they once did. "Banks are getting smarter about how they make their profits and more savvy about which relationships are and are not profitable," says consultant James S. Sagner, president of Sagner/Marks in White Plains, N.Y. "Every year the number of companies that are dumped by their banks goes up."

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