Bankers Trust Co. received the highest score possible for its community reinvestment activities, and claimed it was the first wholesale bank to get the top grade from Federal Reserve Board examiners.

The rating indicates that regulators are sympathetic to good-faith efforts of banks that do not have the traditional branch networks from which most community loans are made.

Wholesale banks have said it is difficult to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act, the federal legislation that regulates bank lending in low-income communities.

$40 Million in Loans

Bankers Trust, which has $52.4 billion in assets, runs a community reinvestment portfolio of $40 million in loans and grants to community groups and housing projects in the New York City region.

Since bolstering its reinvestment program two years ago, the bank has concentrated its CRA activities on housing and other needs of residents of lower-income neighborhoods. It recently granted $75,000 to a local organization to study ways of providing day care.

It also is negotiating to participate with one or two other banks in a $1 million loan to the Enterprise Foundation that would be used for three child-care centers. "Urban problems require fresh thinking and the willingness to do things differently," Bankers Trust chairman Charles S. Sanford Jr. said in a prepared statement.

Gary Hattem, head of the bank's Community Development Group, said the company looks to provide "value added" services, like child care. Mr. Hattem was formerly executive director of the Saint Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corp. in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section.

Banks have been required to disclose their CRA ratings since July 1, 1990. Bankers Trust's rating puts it in a select category: Only 12% of the 1,058 banks examined by the Fed as of early April received the top grade.

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