Two Northeast thrifts want to join the small but growing number of mutual holding companies.

First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Carnegie, Pa., and Pulaski Savings Bank, Springfield, N.J., are seeking permission from the Office of Thrift Supervision to form mutual holding companies.

First Federal, which has $129.5 million of assets, wants to create Skibo Bancshares to hold the majority of the 800,000 to one million shares of stock the thrift plans to sell.

Pulaski, a $163.7 million-asset thrift, wants to form Pulaski Bancorp and plans to offer between 612,000 and 828,000 shares of common stock.

There are currently 36 mutual holding companies in existence.

Mutual holding company ownership allows a thrift to sell a minority stake to investors to generate capital, while leaving majority control of the institution in the hands of the mutual parent. Companies can eventually complete the conversion to become a public stock company.

"We see a lot of people looking at forming a mutual holding," said Samuel J. Malizia, an attorney with Malizia, Spidi, Sloane & Fisch, Washington. "It gives them maximum flexibility."

Mr. Malizia, who is handling First Federal 's conversion, is also working on the conversion of three other Northeast mutual thrifts, which have not yet filed applications with the OTS.

But Mr. Malizia said he doesn't expect the number of mutual holding companies to grow too dramatically because many will eventually convert completely to stock.

"You'll never see the mutual holding company population get too high," he said.

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