Fed Easing a Restriction on Foreign Banks

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve Board finalized a rule Friday permitting foreign banks to remain in the United States even if they are not subject to comprehensive supervision at home.

The rule does allow the Fed to limit the foreign bank's activities and to require additional compliance reports. It also notes that if its orders are violated, the Fed can terminate the foreign bank's U.S. charter.

The Fed said it will handle each foreign bank on a "case by case" basis. The rule is effective March 25.

The central bank also proposed requiring U.S. offices of foreign banks to follow the same rules for off-shore accounts as U.S. banks. Comments are due March 25. - Jaret Seiberg Another Big Year for Mutual Conversions

WASHINGTON - The wave of mutual-to-stock conversions continued unabated in 1995, the Office of Thrift Supervision reported.

Seventy-nine OTS-regulated thrifts converted to stock ownership last year, raising $2.05 billion in capital. Four of the 79 were mutual holding companies - hybrids where stockholders have a minority stake - making the move to full stock ownership.

In 1994, 65 OTS-regulated mutuals converted, raising $2.48 billion. The record year for conversions was 1983, when 83 mutuals converted and $2.74 billion in new capital was raised.

Switching to stock has remained popular despite new rules adopted by the thrift regulator in 1994 that limit insider profits from conversions. The OTS attributed the continuing conversion wave to the strong stock market and anxiety among mutual thrift executives about their fate if the thrift charter is dismantled.

Mutual conversions cannot, however, continue at this pace indefinitely. As of Sept. 30, 1995, there were 607 OTS-regulated mutuals left, with $89.24 billion in assets - just 11.5% of the thrift industry total. Yearend asset figures are not yet available.

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