CLEVELAND - Charter One Financial Inc. and FirstFed Michigan Corp. said the Securities and Exchange Commission has cleared the joint proxy statement-prospectus for the proposed merger of the two thrift holding companies.

The merger, which was announced on May 30, was approved by the Office of Thrift Supervision in late August.

The joint proxy statement-prospectus will be mailed to shareholders of each thrift in time for special meetings to be held on Oct. 27.

Shareholders of record as of Sept. 8 will be eligible to vote on the merger at the meetings.

If approved, the merger is expected to close on Oct. 31.

In addition, Charter One shareholders will vote on proposals relating to increases in the number of authorized shares, the number of directors, and the threshold of common stock ownership subject to voting restrictions. Completion of the merger is not conditioned on approval of the other proposals.

When the merger is completed, the combined company will be based in Cleveland under the name Charter One Financial Inc. It will operate more than 150 retail banking offices in Ohio and Michigan and will have total assets of approximately $13 billion.

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