Mellon Name on Asset Management Unit

PITTSBURGH - Mellon Financial Corp. has stamped its name on Newton Asset Management Ltd., its London-based asset management unit, for all markets except the United Kingdom.Ronald O'Hanley, president of Mellon's institutional and international asset management businesses, said the Mellon brand was better known in Europe, Latin America, and Hong Kong, where Newton distributes unit trusts and mutual funds. Mellon bought a majority stake in the company in October 1998.

Mellon Newton Asset Management Ltd. will also distribute its parent company's full range of investment products, including products from Boston Company Asset Management and Dreyfus Corp. Currently Newton distributes only its own products, Mr. O'Hanley said. Mellon Newton manages more than $28.26 billion of assets.

- Cheryl Winokur

Leach Signs On to Business Checking Pact

WASHINGTON - Under pressure from bankers, House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach has agreed to compromise on legislation set for a vote today that would let banks pay interest on business checking accounts.Rep. Leach plans to offer an amendment that would delay payment of interest until three years after enactment. In the interim, the amendment would expand to 24 the number of monthly withdrawals from so-called sweep accounts. Some large banks use these accounts to get around the ban on paying interest to commercial account holders, but they are limited to allowing six withdrawals per month.

The bill Reps. Leach and Jack Metcalf, R-Wash., introduced last week would have taken effect one year after enactment and would not have expanded sweep accounts. The concession is meant to appease bankers who object to the additional cost of having to pay interest on more accounts.

House Banking is expected to adopt the bill today, but whether it will sail through Congress this year is unclear. Speaking to the Leadership Council of the American Bankers Association on Tuesday, Rep. Leach noted that similar legislation was stalled in the past by large banks seeking to protect their sweep account business. But he argued that banks need the authority to bolster sagging deposits.

It would now appear that the self-interest of banks, as well as their business customers, is to remove the legal barriers," he said.

The Association for Financial Professionals on Tuesday sent Rep. Leach a letter endorsing a repeal of current law. "This bill would eliminate an archaic banking law that has hampered the ability of America's businesses, and particularly smaller businesses, to make effective use of funds on deposit in banks," the group's top officials wrote. America's Community Bankers is also strongly lobbying for the bill.

- Dean Anason

Sony Firming Up Internet Bank Partners

TOKYO - Sony Corp. is in final talks with Sakura Bank and other unidentified financial institutions to line up partners for an Internet-based bank it plans to begin next year, Nikkei English News reported.Sony wants expertise in its relationships with banking regulators, in managing depositors' funds, and in eventually moving into consumer lending. Sony will hold more than a 50% stake to maintain ownership, while Sakura will own a 10% to 20% stake and be the largest of all the partners.

- Bloomberg News

Link Interchange to Stop Double Dipping

LONDON - Link Interchange Network Ltd., which oversees the operation of more than 27,000 U.K. cash machines by 34 banks, said it will prevent banks from charging customers more than once for withdrawals.Beginning July 1, banks that levy charges on their own customers for using other banks' machines - a so-called disloyalty fee - will forfeit that fee when a bank also imposes a surcharge on other banks' customers.

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