John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. is the 12th insurer to file a recent request with the government for a federal thrift charter.

In a Jan. 15 application made public by the Office of Thrift Supervision on Friday, the Boston-based firm said it wants to convert First Signature Bank and Trust Co., its New Hampshire-chartered trust bank, to a federal thrift. The converted institution would be called John Hancock Bank and Trust.

Since Congress began debating legislation to eliminate federal thrifts, the OTS has granted charters to Reliastar Financial Corp., Principal Mutual Insurance Co., and Travelers Group. Thrift applications from nine insurers are still pending at the agency.

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