WASHINGTON - Industry executives, critical of a section of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 that would require large banks to issue and maintain highly rated public debt, are lobbying the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to interpret the law as loosely as possible in a final rule expected in mid-March.

National banks that want to take advantage of the new powers granted by Congress must house them in financial subsidiaries. But before any of the nation's 50 largest banks may do that, they must issue and maintain unsecured, long-term debt and a rating in the top three categories as defined by nationally recognized ratings agencies. (The law also requires the next 50 largest banks to meet a "comparable" standard, which has not yet been proposed.)

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