The Office of Thrift Supervision on Friday granted a trust charter to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Federally chartered MassMutual Trust Co., based in Hartford, Conn., plans to offer personal and employee benefit trusts, investment management, and custody services. With 2.7 million policyholders, MassMutual is the country's sixth-largest mutual life insurance company and the owner of the OppenheimerFunds mutual fund family, which manages more than $100 billion of assets.

At least 40% of MassMutual Trust Co.'s directors may not be employed by its holding company or affiliates, and at least one director must be independent of the thrift itself, OTS said.

MassMutual Trust president Frank Barone said he expects that the thrift will open its doors in January. With the new financial reform law, he said, the thrift probably will seek deposit-taking authority from OTS.

"I would think all insurers would want to be a private bank," Mr. Barone said. -- Katharine Fraser

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