Panel Gets Until Sept. 15 on Reform Bill

WASHINGTON-House Speaker Newt Gingrich Thursday gave the Commerce Committee until Sept. 15 to make changes in financial modernization legislation approved by the Banking Committee, congressional staff members said.

The Commerce Committee is widely expected to tackle provisions dealing with bank sales of securities and insurance. Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley has vowed to roll back the comptroller of the currency's power to authorize new activities for national banks.

The Banking Committee released the final draft of its bill Thursday. The legislation, which the committee approved June 20, would let banks affiliate with securities, insurance, and nonfinancial firms. - Bill McConnell Appeals Court Hampers Suing of Agencies

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has made it substantially more difficult for community groups to sue regulators for approving bank mergers.

The New York-based court, in an opinion issued Wednesday, dismissed a case brought by Bronx-based Inner City Press/Community on the Move against Chase Manhattan Corp.'s purchase of several businesses from U.S. Trust Corp., New York.

The court said community groups may not sue regulators over merger approvals without proving their relationship with the bank would be significantly harmed by a deal. The court also said it would defer to the Federal Reserve Board's evaluation of a bank's Community Reinvestment Act grade. - Jaret Seiberg Ill. Bank Backs Down from Bid to Enter Mo.

WASHINGTON-Complaints from trade groups and state regulators have persuaded an Illinois national bank to withdraw its bid to branch into Missouri.

First National Bank of Carbondale, Ill., had asked the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for permission to move to Fruitdale, Mo. The $250 million-asset bank had planned to use the OCC's so-called 30-mile rule to circumvent Missouri's interstate branching law, which bans out-of-state banks from opening a new branch there.

"What we wanted to do was perfectly legal, but given the potential legal costs and amount of time this could take, it didn't look like a good business decision," said First National president and chief executive Joe R. Kesler. Instead, First National will enter Missouri by either acquiring a bank or opening loan production offices there, Mr. Kesler said.

The 30-mile loophole allows a national bank to move its headquarters anywhere within a 30-mile radius, even across a state border. Mr. Kesler had planned to charter a new Illinois national bank that would have acquired all the branches of First National. The branchless First National then would have relocated across the border and eventually merged with the newly chartered Illinois bank.

- Olaf de Senerpont Domis

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