U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd plans to propose legislation that would merge four bank agencies into one super-regulator, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

Dodd's approach, meant as a starting point for the Senate's response to the financial crisis, differs sharply from that envisioned by President Barack Obama, especially in lessening the oversight role of the Federal Reserve, the paper said.

The Democratic senator told the Times in an interview on Friday he wanted to restore consumers' confidence in the nation's banking system, while not hampering business.

We clearly need to put in place an architecture that restores confidence and makes people feel that when they engage in financial activities, from making a bank deposit to buying insurance or investing in stock, that they can have confidence in the system, the newspaper quoted Dodd as saying

On the other side of this, I don't want to strangle business, he added.

The Times said the Obama administration had considered, then rejected, the idea of combining the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Comptroller of the Currency into one superagency.

The Obama administration wants to put the Fed in charge of overseeing large, interconnected firms and systemic risk in the economy. Bank oversight would be streamlined under the Obama plan with a new national bank supervisor, merging the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision.

(Writing by Chris Michaud; Editing by Peter Cooney)