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The Federal Reserve Board said Tuesday it approved an application by Fleet/Norstar Financial Group Inc., to engage in brokerage and advisory services for institutional and retail customers.

The Providence, R.I., bank holding company, the 16th largest in the United States with assets of $33.4 billion, will engage in the business through its subsidiary, Adams McEntee Fleet Norstar Securities Inc., of New York.

The firm will also act as an agent in the private placement of all types of securities, including related advisory services, the Fed said.

Fleet/Norstar, which operates eight banks including one in Buffalo, already underwrites and deals in certain securities and provides other financial services not traditionally offered by banks, the board said in its order.

Fleet/Norstar's entry into the market was formally opposed by the Securities Industry Association, a trade association of investment bankers, and the Investment Company Institute, a mutual fund trade association. The SIA raised concerns about a bank entering the brokerage field, while the Investment Institute raised questions about Fleet-Norstar offering securities in companies to which the firm and its affiliates also serve as financial advisers.

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