Another Group of Activists May Try to Block Chemical-Hanover Merger

A second community organization is considering a challenge to the planned merger of Chemical Banking Corp. and Manufacturers Hanover Corp.

The Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College will decide within the next two weeks whether to fight the mega-marriage of the two New York banks, said Peter Williams, project associate at the Brooklyn-based advocacy organization.

The banks have been negotiating in recent weeks with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group threatening to thwart the merger.

Comment Period Extended

Last week, Acorn and other community activists won an extra month in which to protest the merger when the Federal Reserve Board said it would extend until Nov. 22 the comment period on the banks' proposal.

Mr. Williams said the Center for Law and Social Justice, part of the City University of New York, is studying data released under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act to decide if there is a basis for challenging the merger application.

Hanover and Chemical have said their combined approval rate for minority applicants was 45.2%, while white applicants were approved for home loans 67.1% of the time.

A statement by the banks said that "each application was properly evaluated, without regard to race, based on each bank's credit criteria."

The Federal Reserve Board this week released a study of the HMDA data, which suggested that banks nationwide may routinely discriminate against mortgage borrowers on the basis of race.

Three years ago, Mr. Williams' group compiled a study that said area banks discriminate against minority mortgage applicants.

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