Magazine article American Banker

Senator Seeks to Protect His State's ILC Industry

Magazine article American Banker

Senator Seeks to Protect His State's ILC Industry

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Even Sen. Bob Bennett, the industrial loan companies' No. 1 supporter in Congress, understands why Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s desire to charter one has so many people so upset.

Even he has made the giant retailer promise it would use the charter only to process payments -- not to enter retail banking.

"I've advised Wal-Mart to keep their word," the Utah Republican said in an interview Wednesday. "They have told me in this specific quote: 'We've looked at this, and we've realized we are not bankers. We are retailers.' That's why they're willing to write into the charter, 'No branching,' because it doesn't appeal to their business plan."

Sen. Bennett said the debate over whether there is sufficient regulation has turned into a referendum on Wal-Mart.

"Anything that Wal-Mart does is controversial," he said. "Unions hate Wal-Mart. There are other groups that hate Wal-Mart. They see this as a forum to vent their opinions."

Utah is home to 33 of the nation's 60 ILCs, and they hold $115 billion of the industry's $140 billion of assets. Sen. Bennett said the industry employs between 15,000 and 20,000 people in his state.

His position as the second highest-ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee gives him broad authority to thwart attempts by others in Congress to restrict ILC operations. Senate delays in moving a regulatory relief bill this year have been attributed in part to his opposition to a House version that would limit ILC branching. …

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