A group of 17 state affiliates of the American Farm Federation has asked for permission to form a federal thrift.

The state farm bureaus, which are trade organizations for farmers and agricultural businesses, plan to start a new institution that would be called Farm Bureau Bank.

The thrift would be capitalized with $42.5 million in cash and other assets provided by the bureaus.

Larry J. Lanie, chief executive officer of FB Bancorp, which would be the thrift's parent company, said the farm bureaus want to expand the financial services they offer members. Since 1993 the bureaus have offered insurance and vehicle loans through affinity programs with several banks and financial firms.

Meanwhile, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. has withdrawn its application to convert its New Hampshire-chartered trust bank, First Signature Bank and Trust Co., to a federal thrift.

"We are going to await the outcome of the congressional debate before deciding whether and in what way to restructure the bank's operations," a spokeswoman at the Boston-based firm said Wednesday.

House Republicans, under a deal struck Tuesday, are considering provisions that would place new limitations on thrift holding companies.

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