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Over the past four years, the increasingly desperate scramble for credit has cost corporate treasury staffs a lot of independence when it comes to dealings with their bankers. The price for scarce credit has not been high interest rates, but rather business packages that channeled cash management, custody, pension and investment banking services to the most generous lender rather than the best service provider. The practice has been pervasive enough to capture the attention of the Federal Reserve, which earlier this year put out guidelines on what qualifies as bank tying–that is, the illegal act of predicating offers of credit upon the award of other fee-based business–and even fined one particularly egregious transgressor.

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