Cal Fed Bancorp has withdrawn its application for a national bank charter.

Cal Fed abandoned its plan Aug. 1 after First Nationwide Bank announced an agreement to acquire the $14 billion-asset thrift company.

Los Angeles-based Cal Fed had asked the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for a federal bank charter in order to avoid the 23-basis-point differential between bank and thrift deposit insurance premiums. The company had planned to open bank branches in its thrift offices, then use higher rates to tempt depositors to shift funds to the bank.

But First Nationwide is a unit of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., a unitary thrift holding company. In order to open a national bank subsidiary, MacAndrews and Forbes would be forced to shed its nonbank subsidiaries, which include Revlon and Coleman Camping Equipment.

Cal Fed had been one of seven thrifts seeking a bank charter. The OCC recently approved bids by Great Western Financial Corp. and TCF Financial Corp. to open national banks.

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