Magazine article American Banker

4 National Banks in Okla. Cleared to Open Branches Anywhere in the State

Magazine article American Banker

4 National Banks in Okla. Cleared to Open Branches Anywhere in the State

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -

Keeping pace with new branching powers for thrifts, four national banks in Oklahoma received approval last week from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to open offices around the state.

The banks are allowed to open the branches because federal law guarantees national banks the same privileges as their state-chartered competitors. The decision could end up eliminating branching restrictions for all financial institutions in Oklahoma.

Until recently, a 1983 Oklahoma law said state banks and thrifts and national banks could open only two branches in their hometowns and one branch outside of town. Even then, the out-of-town branch had to be within 25 miles of the main office and in a community lacking a local bank.

But, as specified in that law, the prohibition expired for thrifts on July 1, meaning they could open an unlimited number of branches anywhere in the state.

That left only state and national commercial banks subject to the branching restrictions, because federally chartered thrifts and credit unions were already exempt from the law.

But four national banks-InterBank of Elk City, Bank of Oklahoma in Tulsa, First Fidelity Bank of Oklahoma City, and First National Bank and Trust Company of Weatherford-successfully argued that limits on de novo branches should be dropped for them, too, because federal law says the comptroller may let national banks establish branches anywhere if state banks may do so.

Their case hinged on the definition of "banks" in Oklahoma, which includes trust companies, savings banks, and other institutions conducting banking business under state laws. …

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