Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and United Payers and United Providers Inc. won government approval Thursday to acquire thrifts.

The Office of Thrift Supervision said Lehman Brothers of New York may acquire the troubled Delaware Savings Bank in Wilmington.

The $75 million-asset thrift, which would be renamed Lehman Brothers Bank, originates and buys conventional and nonconventional mortgage loans.

The OTS gave United Payers of Rockville, Md., permission to acquire Quantum Financial Holdings Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Baltimore American Savings Bank.

Quantum, with $28 million of assets, is primarily a single-family mortgage lender. United Payers offers discounted health-care services through a national network of providers including 2,900 hospitals and 153,000 physicians.

These two approvals bring the number of nonbanks buying or chartering thrifts to 30 since the fall of 1997.

That's when Congress began debating whether to bar such companies from using the thrift charter to enter the banking business. There are 60 applications from nonbanks pending at the OTS.

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