Nordstrom Inc., the Seattle department store chain, asked the Office of Thrift of Supervision Thursday for permission to convert its credit card subsidiary into a savings bank.

Through the thrift charter, Nordstrom Financial Services would use direct mail to solicit home equity loans, commercial credit cards, and money market checking accounts, a spokeswoman said.

Nordstrom also plans to offer mortgages in the Phoenix metropolitan area, said Kevin T. Knight, president of the credit card unit. The thrift would be headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Nordstrom's application brings to 39 the number of nonbanking companies with charter requests pending before the OTS.

A funeral services company, United Family Life Insurance Co. of Atlanta, recently applied to open Fortis Family Trust Co., which would engage primarily in trust services. New York Life Insurance Co. has requested permission to convert its New York Life Trust Co. into a thrift. And Guard Insurance Group, Wilkes Barre, Pa., also applied for permission to open a thrift to offer unspecified financial services.

Bank Audi, a New York commercial bank, is seeking permission to open a thrift in Miami to expand its home mortgage business.

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