The Association of Financial Services Holding Companies on Wednesday denounced two financial modernization bills introduced this month.

The bills, one by House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach and the other by Rep. Marge Roukema, restrict ownership of banks by nonfinancial firms.

The proposals would hurt unitary thrift holding companies and limited purpose banks by crippling their ability to expand or merge with similar institutions, said Patrick A. Forte, the group's president.

The trade group urged Congress and the Clinton administration to create a new charter that allows banks to be owned by commercial firms.

The association is comprised of unitary thrift holding companies and credit card banks including Ford Motor Corp. and Sears Roebuck & Co.

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