Citicorp, fighting oil billionaire Gordon P. Getty in a bidding war to buy ailing National Permanent Bank, yesterday disclosed it has offered to acquire the thrift under a plan that would include the purchase of American Indian National Bank.
Citicorp, the nation's largest bank holding company, said it had proposed earlier this year buying Nat opposes converting S&Ls to banks.
The Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the federal agency that regulates the thrift industry, put National Permanent up for sale in January in the hope of finding an outside investor to pump additional cash into the institution. Selling a failing thrift rather than liquidating it is cheaper for the division of the bank board that insures S&L deposits up to $100,000.
The bank board has said Citicorp's plan would save the government the most money, but has refused to allow National Permanent to be converted to a bank, Gregg said.
Sources close to the bidding process said that the bank board has favored the Getty plan because it would maintain National Permanent as a thrift institution.
The bank board had no comment. Federal law requires the bank board to seek the highest bid, to favor local investors over financial institutions from out of the region and to try to avoid converting thrift institutions to banks.
Citicorp said it will revise the bid it submitted to the bank board to reflect Citicorp's willingness to operate National Permanent as a thrift as long as federal regulators allow Citicorp to coordinate thrift and bank operations, Gregg said.
Citicorp also said it would pursue its efforts to buy American Indian regardless of the outcome of the National Permanent bid.
Citicorp said that it plans to give American Indian four branches of a Citicorp bank in Arizona in exchange for getting American Indian's national bank charter in the District.
"I'm amazed that Citicorp has waited until this moment to complain about the bidding process," said Stuart McFarland, chairman and chief executive of National Permanent. "All I can do is comment on what's important for National Permanent and its employes, and the depositors in the greater D.C. market and that is to avoid becoming a distant branch of a large New York bank."
In a letter to Bank Board Chairman Edwin Gray last week, D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), chairman of the D.C. Committee on Housing and Economic Development, said that she favors Citicorp's bid because the company is the only applicant that has discussed with her a commitment to invest in the District as part of its plan for buying National Permanent.
Jarvis said that, under law, the bank board must consider "the needs of the local community" in awarding a bid.
The Federal Reserve board yesterday asked for public comment by June 27 on reducing the restrictions on what services the Citicorp S&Ls can offer jointly with other Citicorp subsidiaries from student loans to credit cards.