Stephen Ross, founder of the private developer Related Companies, and two of his partners have been granted preliminary approval by U.S. regulators to charter a new bank that would enable them to bid for failed institutions seized by the government, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday.

Related is competing with other investors for the assets of Corus Bankshares Inc , a Chicago lender battered by losses on condominium loans, according to the paper.

Corus, which had assets of about $7.1 billion as of June 30, had earlier said that it was critically undercapitalized. [ID:nN31434604]

The paper added that other investors eyeing Corus's assets include Crescent Heights, Lone Star Funds, Colony Capital LLC and iStar Financial Inc, and Starwood Capital Group.

Bids on Corus assets, originally due on Tuesday, have been pushed back by at least two weeks, the paper said citing people familiar with the matter.

Related partners filed an application with the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) to form SJB National Bank, headed by Stephen Ross and Related executives Jeff Blau and Bruce Beal Jr, the paper said adding that Related would have no ownership interest in the bank.

The paper said OCC's approval letter said that SJB Bank would not commence operations until after its bid for a particular institution is accepted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp though the application did not refer to any particular acquisition target.

Related Companies and Corus Bankshares could not be reached immediately for comment by Reuters.

(Reporting by Chakradhar Adusumilli in Bangalore; Editing by Hans Peters)