WASHINGTON — The Office of Thrift Supervision has issued a clarification on how the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act applies to multithrift holding companies.

The opinion, dated April 11 but released by the agency this month, said multithrift holding companies had been barred from entering nonbanking businesses such as insurance and securities underwriting before Gramm-Leach-Bliley, though unitary thrift holding companies could do so.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley permits financial holding companies to enter such businesses, and the OTS opinion emphasized that it authorizes all thrift holding companies to engage in any activity permitted to financial holding companies.

Though the 1999 financial reform law barred new unitary thrift holding companies from entering, or being bought by, nonfinancial enterprises, the opinion said that, overall, Gramm-Leach-Bliley “expands the range of permissible activities” for multithrift holding companies.

Carolyn Buck, the agency’s chief counsel, said the opinion was issued to end industry officials’ and examiners’ uncertainty about permitted activities and approval requirements for such companies.

Financial holding companies must file notices with the Federal Reserve Board to exercise new powers, Ms. Buck said. Thrift holding companies have an advantage because they need not notify the Fed or OTS before using a new power.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.