JOE R. IRWIN IS ONE of hundreds of bankers who have made alliances with the Federal Home Loan Bank System. But his recent move to join the government-sponsored group brings new visibility to the arrangements.

Mr. Irwin is chief investment officer of PNC Bank Corp., the nation's 11th-biggest bank company. Its flagship subsidiary, the $31 billion-asset lead bank in Pittsburgh, joined the Home Loan system earlier this month as its largest commercial bank member. PNC Bank of Ohio also has been approved for membership.

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