To create a vehicle to help finance loans for low-income borrowers, Goldman, Sachs & Co. has joined the ranks of nonbanks trying to charter a federal thrift.

The investment banking powerhouse filed an application with the Office of Thrift Supervision on Friday to establish the Goldman Sachs Thrift, to be based in New York.

"It is anticipated that the majority of the savings bank's lending and investment activity will be focused on purchasing mortgages from organizations which provide financing for home construction and purchase to low-income individuals," the application stated. Officials for Goldman declined to elaborate.

According to the application, Goldman's savings bank would participate as an investor in the secondary market for mortgage securities and provide liquidity in the market by purchasing, investing in, and selling these securities.

Goldman Sachs is one of two major securities firms with a thrift application pending. PaineWebber Group wants to launch a thrift to offer trust services nationwide. On April 22 the OTS approved A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.'s plan to start a thrift. Merrill Lynch is the only investment bank now operating a thrift.

Since Congress began debating whether to eliminate the thrift charter, 21 nonbanks have filed applications to start one. Nine nonbanking companies have gotten approval recently.

Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co., a subsidiary of Kemper Financial Cos., also filed an application last week.

LMC First Bank would be headquartered and operate one retail branch in Long Grove, Ill., a suburb north of Chicago where Kemper is based. The thrift would offer traditional products, including mortgage, home equity, and auto loans. Officials of Lumbermens would not comment on the application.

Goldman Sachs said it plans to infuse $2.4 million of capital into the new thrift. The savings bank also would retain all its earnings in the first several years of operation, the application said.

"Most other firms that have obtained thrift charters have done so to round out the menu of services that they can provide, especially to investors," said Michael A. Flanagan, an independent brokerage industry analyst at Financial Service Analytics Inc., Fort Washington, Pa.

But Goldman's application "appears to be targeted to one specific investment strategy," Mr. Flanagan said. "Goldman sees a business opportunity, and the thrift charter will provide Goldman with the ability to capitalize on that opportunity."

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