Baltimore investment house T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. has filed an application with the Office of Thrift Supervision to operate a savings and loan.

The mutual fund giant-T. Rowe Price is the country's third-largest direct marketer of mutual funds-claimed it is facing increased competition from commercial banks and savings banks that now offer mutual funds and other investment products.

"In creating a new thrift, T. Rowe Price plans to offer deposit products to its nationwide customer base," according to its application. "There are no plans to engage in lending activities."

T. Rowe Price had $141.9 billion of assets under management on June 30. It reported net income of $86 million for the first half, on revenues of $433 million.

Twenty-seven other nonbanks have charter applications pending at the OTS. Most investment banks want thrift charters to offer trust services.

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