The Office of Thrift Supervision, the chief regulator of the U.S. savings-and-loan industry, has advised Washington Mutual that its application to buy Providian Financial is complete. It won't hold hearings on the proposed deal, an Aug. 5 report from Reuters said.

The notification is not a final approval, but it does close the period for public comment on the merger, reportedly valued at $6.45 billion. The merger was originally announced in June and kicked off what has turned out to be a summer of consolidation in the credit card industry, according to the Reuters report.

Following suit, Bank of America agreed to buy MBNA for $35 billion and HSBC Finance has agreed to buy Metris for $1.59 billion.

There has been controversy in the Providian deal, though. Putnam Investments, which controls 7.5 percent of Providian's outstanding shares, said it would oppose the merger. Putnam said it believes that Washington Mutual is not paying enough for Providian.

Providian Shareholders will vote on the sale Aug. 31.

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