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Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka expressed support Oct. 9 for the merger between Fukutoku Bank and the Bank of Naniwa, calling it a sign that the two financial firms are determined to weather the upcoming financial deregulation.In a statement, Mitsuzuka noted that aggressive restructuring efforts and a comprehensive disposal of nonperforming assets are needed if the banks are to create a healthy management base. “The merger apparently also has in mind the proposed revisions to the Deposit Insurance Law, which is to be submitted to the current Diet session,” the minister said.The revisions would enable the merger to utilize funds from Deposit Insurance Corp. through such means as having the body purchase the sour loans of the two banks so the new bank could start with a clean slate. Mitsuzuka added that at present, there is no problem with the two banks’ creditworthiness, and that whether they actually make use of the revised law is up to them to decide when they actually merge.Under the proposed bill, “failed financial institutions” are interpreted as those that cannot meet deposit withdrawal needs, rather than those that actually go under with liabilities exceeding assets. Ministry officials acknowledged that there was dialogue between authorities and the two banks before the announcement of the merger, but stressed that the banks themselves made the actual decisions regarding the move.

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