WASHINGTON - Banking industry trade groups last week credited the Office of Thrift Supervision with softening its stance on mutual-to-stock conversions, but complained that the agency still would require too much red tape, which would stifle these controversial deals.

Some of the application requirements of a proposal issued in July "may be unduly burdensome and may be viewed as a barrier to conversion," Thomas J. Sheehan, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, wrote in a letter to the agency on Nov. 7.

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