Credit Suisse Group may expand into insurance in the United States, said Richard E. Thornburgh, its chief financial officer. "Bancassurance is something we know and understand," Mr. Thornburgh said in a recent interview.

Since the group's acquisition of Wintherthur in August 1997, he added, expanding into insurance has become "a real option."

The Bank Holding Company Act prohibits Credit Suisse, the parent of New York-based Credit Suisse First Boston, from underwriting insurance in the United States.

Like Citigroup, which is in a similar position since it was created by a merger in September that involved Travelers Group, Credit Suisse has been given three years to continue its banking operations until it finds a solution.

If there is no change by then in U.S. law, Mr. Thornburgh said, Credit Suisse might well consider "debanking"-giving up its banking license and converting itself into a financial holding company with separate units for investment banking, asset management, and insurance.

Mr. Thornburgh said a decision last year to pull out of U.S. private banking would make debanking easier.

"Now that we are no longer in private banking, debanking has become a much more attractive and much more viable solution if there is no regulatory reform," Mr. Thornburgh said.

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