INTRODUCING: HOME EQUITY expanded weekly coverage of one of the hottest sectors of mortgage lending begins today. Legalization of home equity loans in Texas could open a $200 billion market. Meanwhile, Wall Street is gearing up to buy home equity loans. WASHINGTON Transamerica asked the government for permission to charter a federal thrift. Consumer advocates and bankers clashed at a Fed hearing over the best way to regulate high-interest mortgages and home equity loans. CORPORATE FINANCE a few bankers are cautious now that commercial real estate markets have made a comeback. Bankers at Wachovia are certain they want securities underwriting and distribution powers, but they are uncertain of how they will obtain them. MORTGAGES HomeSide is looking to enter the risky but potentially lucrative world of subprime lending. REGIONAL BANKING Within hours of announcing his plan to buy Charlottesville, Va.-based Jefferson Bankshares, Wachovia chief executive officer L.M. "Bud" Baker was already hinting of more to come. His immediate focus: the northern Virginia markets near Washington. Citizens Financial Group of Providence, R.I., plans to open 22 full- service branches in grocery stores in eastern Massachusetts. COMMUNITY BANKING Some former officials of a Maryland bank and one it bought have tentatively agreed to stop fighting it and sell their shares. CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs CARD FRONTIERS: Three New England states are moving toward what will likely be a hybrid smart card-with both a chip and a magnetic stripe-for administering federal benefits. Mondex completed its Canadian sweep by signing Bank of Nova Scotia. TECHNOLOGY A former president and director of Bankers Trust New York founded a technology company specializing in risk management. MARKET MONITOR Banks and financial institutions have issued more than $1 billion in debt this week to take advantage of sliding interest rates and tap the foreign market for U.S. bank paper. After a day of turbulent trading, amid conflicting economic news, bank stocks ended up about where they had started the day.

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