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Countrywide's Thrifty Move

Countrywide Financial (CFC) plans to convert its banking operations into a federal savings bank.

The mortgage lender says it has notified the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision of its intent to change its current national bank charter to a federal thrift charter.

Once the application process is approved, Countrywide Bank would be converted to a federal savings bank, while the Calabasas, Calif., holding company would become a savings and loan holding company, regulated by just the Office of Thrift Supervision.

"We believe that the OTS's focus on the housing market and its unitary supervisory approach aligns more closely with Countrywide's existing business activities and future diversification efforts," the company said.

In the third quarter, banking services contributed about 31% to Countrywide's overall earnings, while mortgage services contributed about 48%, it said.

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