The government on Wednesday imposed new limits on small- business lending by federal credit unions.

The National Credit Union Administration adopted a rule limiting business lending to 12.25% of a credit union's assets. Exempted are low- income credit unions, credit unions with a history of making significant business loans, and those specifically chartered to make small-business loans.

The rule will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Separately, the NCUA made it easier for federally chartered credit unions to convert to mutual thrifts. For instance, it dropped a ban on inclusion of marketing materials with notices of a potential conversion.

Changes to both rules were required by the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998.

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