Eight trade groups on Monday urged Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin to seek legislation allowing nonfinancial firms to own banks.

In a letter to Mr. Rubin, the industry groups called for the "broadest possible array of affiliations" between financial and commercial firms.

The appeal comes as the Treasury Department prepares its recommendations for financial services reform legislation. The report to Congress, due March 31, is expected to include plans for merging the bank and thrift charters, and repealing the Glass-Steagall Act.

"We respectfully urge that any administration proposal be as comprehensive as possible," the groups wrote.

Associations endorsing the letter were America's Community Bankers, American Council of Life Insurance, American Financial Services Association, Bankers Roundtable, Consumer Bankers Association, Financial Services Council, Investment Company Institute, and Securities Industry Association.

The American Bankers Association, which is still reviewing whether to support ownership of banks by nonfinancial firms, did not sign the letter.

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