New York Gov. George E. Pataki last week unveiled legislation to give state regulators permanent authority to grant state- chartered banks the same powers as national banks.

Similar "wild-card" legislation was enacted last year, but that law expires Sept. 10.

Keeping state institutions on par with national banks is particularly important to New York regulators because eight of the state's 10 largest banks hold state charters, including Chase Manhattan Bank and Morgan Guaranty Trust Co.

"I'm committed to maintaining New York's role as the world's financial capital," Gov. Pataki said.

Gov. Pataki hopes to find a lawmaker willing to sponsor the legislation by the end of this week, his spokesman said.

Elizabeth McCaul, acting New York banking superintendent, said state- chartered institutions are likely to switch to federal charters if their powers do not keep up with national banks.

"Gov. Pataki's bill will ensure that the banking department has the flexibility to adapt New York's charter powers to meet the requirements of a changing financial services industry," she said.

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