A Lawrenceville, N.J., thrift has taken a step toward shedding its mutual form of ownership, with more acquisitions in mind.

Trenton Savings Bank, with $517 million of assets, said last week that it intends to create a stock holding company to "diversify operations," among other considerations.

"It is the bank's intention to expand," said Robert Russo, vice president. "There are no definite plans yet, but this gives us that flexibility."

A stock holding company would allow the thrift to make the more appealing stock-swap deals, which are tax-free, as compared with cash deals. Trenton Savings is about to close on a $75 million cash deal for a commercial bank. It also bought a branch from the Resolution Trust Corp. last year, Mr. Russo said.

The thrift already has a mutual holding company, which it formed a year ago. At the same time, it sold 35% of the thrift in a public offering. Each share of the thrift's stock would be exchanged for a share of the new holding company stock, contingent on shareholder and regulatory approval.

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