WASHINGTON - Birmingham-based SouthTrust Corp. converted its lead bank to an Alabama state charter on June 6, moving $44 billion of assets out of the national banking system.

So far this year, 10 national banks have opted for state charters, and nine state banks have switched to national charters. Though states charter most of the nation's banks - 6,216 institutions or 72.5% of the total - these banks hold just under 43% of the industry's $5.73 trillion of assets. SouthTrust made the jump to a state charter to save money and streamline its supervision, according to a spokeswoman.

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