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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Wal-Mart’s bid to buy an industrial bank was thwarted by a bill that prevented the retail giant from doing so. The state’s banking committee voted 5-2 to forbid any company that is not a bank holding company or credit union from buying industrial banks. Industrial banks offer savings accounts and business and personal loans but are not permitted to offer so-called “demand accounts” including checking accounts. Wal-Mart wanted to buy Franklin Bank of California, an industrial bank in Orange County with $2.4 million in assets, one branch and three employees to save expenses for processing debit-card transactions. Critics argued that Wal-Mart’s entry into banking would be the first step to the world largest retailer becoming a banking giant. Wal-Mart had $219 billion in revenue in 2001. Bob McAdam, a Wal-Mart lobbyist, said the retailer would need permission from the state’s Department of Financial Institutions if it wanted to expand into other areas of banking beyond debit-card processing.

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