WASHINGTON - The Office of Thrift Supervision on Thursday approved the application of the farm equipment maker Deere & Co., of Madison, Wis., to organize a federal savings bank.

John Deere Credit Corp. will own the thrift, but the parent company and a second subsidiary, John Deere Capital Corp., will also become thrift holding companies.

The new institution, to be called FPC Financial, will manage Deere's $750 million-asset credit card business. The company has three lines of revolving credit products: Farm Plan, for agricultural businesses; Power Plan, for the construction industry; and John Deere Credit Card, which targets retail consumers.

In addition to credit cards, the new thrift will originate home mortgage loans in the pre-fabricated housing market. FPC Financial will not solicit retail deposits; it intends to fund its lending through inter-company borrowing and deposits.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 limited new thrift charters to banking organizations, insurance companies, or securities firms unless a nonfinancial company had applied before May 4, 1999. Deere's application was one of a handful submitted by nonfinancial companies before the deadline.

Other firms expected to receive thrift charters in the near future are SEI Investments Co. of Oaks, Pa., and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Milwaukee.

So far this year the OTS has granted eight charters for start-up thrifts.


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