LaSalle National Bank is plunging back into the mortgage securities business. The Chicago bank's broker-dealer division is stockpiling inventory and hiring traders to get the effort off the ground.

LaSalle wants to recapture its standing as a leading wholesaler, said Gary Peters, a senior vice president who runs the broker-dealer's trading operation in Boca Raton, Fla. During the early 1990s, the unit was selling as much as $6 billion of mortgage-backed products a year, he said. But it left the business in 1994 as demand plunged.

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