North Fork of N.Y. Set To Close 2 Deals in Feb.

WASHINGTON - North Fork Bancorp of Melville, N.Y., said Tuesday that it would close two deals for thrift holding companies next month, boosting its assets roughly 50%, to $16 billion.The deals involve JSB Financial, the parent of Jamaica Savings Bank of Lynbrook, N.Y., and Reliance Bancorp Inc., the parent of Reliance Savings Bank of Garden City, N.Y. North Fork cleared its last regulatory hurdle Monday, when the Federal Reserve Board approved the purchases.

The acquisitions would add 38 branches, bringing North Fork's total to 150, all in metropolitan New York and Connecticut.

- Rob Garver

Race Data Collection Opposed by Bankers

WASHINGTON - A Federal Reserve Board proposal that would allow banks to voluntarily collect small-business lending data on borrowers' race, ethnicity, and gender was favored by 56% of those who filed comment letters with the central bank, according to an analysis conducted by the Greenlining Institute, a San Francisco-based consumer advocacy group.However, among the banks and bank trade associations that filed comments, 183 of 192 opposed the move. Among the handful of banks and thrifts supporting the proposal were Wells Fargo & Co., Union Bank, Washington Mutual, and Cal Fed.

The report said 563 of 713 letters pertained to the Fed's Regulation B, which currently prohibits the collection of such data. Broken down by type of respondent, the proposal was supported by 16 of 18 government officials and 293 of 353 small-business associations and nonprofits.

- Rob Garver

Dime-Hudson United Merger Deal Protested

WASHINGTON - A protest filed Monday with the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. contends that Dime Bancorp and pending merger partner Hudson United Bancorp have "troubling" fair-lending and community reinvestment records.Matthew Lee, executive director of Inner City Press/Community on the Move in the Bronx, N.Y., charges that New York-based Dime, which applied to the Fed, and Mahwah, N.J.-based Hudson United, which applied to the FDIC, discriminate against African-American and Hispanic home loan applicants in various markets.

"Furthermore, this proposed merger would ill serve the convenience and needs of communities," Mr. Lee wrote, as branch closures are likely for the applicants "to meet their cost-cutting projections." Mr. Lee asked that the merger application be denied.

A Hudson United spokesman said, "We stand by our good record. We've never received less than a 'satisfactory' rating from the FDIC on CRA."

A prepared statement from Dime said the merger partners will respond formally to the protest in regulatory filings. It added that Dime has received four consecutive "outstanding" ratings since 1990. The statement said the combined company has made a $2.5 billion commitment to lend in low- and moderate-income areas over five years.

- Katharine Fraser

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