Adelizzi, Bounced by OTS, Arises in Texas

Robert Adelizzi is back.

Five months after regulators forced him to abandon the helm of HomeFed Corp., San Diego, Mr. Adelizzi has resurfaced in Texas. Beginning in January, Mr. Adelizzi will oversee the burgeoning thrift operations of Temple-Inland Inc., a forest products concern.

Applying His Knowledge

Mr. Adelizzi, 56, is ready to get started and insists he brings a lot to the table.

"I've accumulated a lot of knowledge," he said in a recent telephone interview. "Some of it by doing things wrong and some of it by doing things right."

Many industry observers had written off Mr. Adelizzi, a popular and widely respected executive. It is almost unheard of for a chief executive forced out by regulators to get rehabilitated and land another job running another financial institution.

"It speaks very highly of Mr. Adelizzi," said Thomas King, president of the Texas Savings and Loan League.

Not Quite Autonomous

The easy-going Mr. Adelizzi seems sobered by his recent experiences, and perhaps by the fact that he has a boss between him and the board of directors. He's reluctant to talk about how he'll do things differently after "recent events," which he characterizes as "not real satisfying."

"You always perform best when you have something to prove," he said. |I don't know if I have anything to prove except to myself, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to be part of this organization."

His new boss is confident. "We discussed this with the regulators" before the announcement, said Clifford J. Grum, Temple-Inland's chairman and chief executive officer. He declined to disclose any more about talks with the Office of Thrift Supervision, except to say, "we do not feel he will have a credibility problem."

A Different Scenario

That concern is what keeps most of these executives from returning to a thrift executive suite. "When somebody is drummed out, usually nobody wants them," said one consultant, "because they worry there will be a regulatory problem. And who needs more regulatory problems?"

Billy Wood, regional director of the OTS in Dallas, acknowledged that regulators had talked with Temple-Inland executives, but declined to describe the discussions.

For his part, Mr. Adelizzi demurs when asked about his second chance with the regulators. "Up until recently, I've had very good relationships with the regulators, he said.

Indeed, until the recession, Mr. Adelizzi's record at HomeFed looked stellar.

A dentist's son who grew up in the blue-collar Italian neighborhood of South Philadelphia, Mr. Adelizzi started out at HomeFed 30 years ago. Ironically, he began by working on problem loans, the thing that would end his career there 30 years later. He climbed the corporate ladder, becoming president and chief operating officer in 1981, running most of the business.

Worried about HomeFed's dependence on Southern California, he diversified the thrift into real estate development in California and construction lending in other states. The plan worked well for a while. HomeFed was one of the most profitable and best capitalized thrifts in the country.

But as the recession hit, losses mounted, nonperforming loans rose to $1.47 billion, or 8.4% of assets, at March 31 and HomeFed's stock plunged from a high of $48 a share to below $5 a share. The board, at the insistence of the regulators, decided it was time for new management and Mr. Adelizzi resigned.

Portfolio of Businesses

In his new post, Mr. Adelizzi will be running Guaranty Federal Savings Bank, Dallas, and Kilgore Federal Savings and Loan Association, which have combined deposits of about $7 billion and about 140 branches. Mr. Adelizzi will also head up several mortgage banking units controlled by the paper company. Mr. Adelizzi's former shop, HomeFed, has about $17 billion in assets.

He will have his work cut out for him in his new job. Guaranty recently acquired the $3 billion-asset Southwest Federal Savings and Loan Association, Dallas. Both were created under the so-called Southwest plan, which combined failed thrifts for sale to investors. So far, Guaranty has earned only modest profits.

Temple-Inland plans to seek regulatory approval to merge its thrift holdings. "They have a good branch structure with dominant market share in some markets," Mr. Adelizzi said. "We will be a major player and one of the few institutions in Texas that is still locally owned."

PHOTO : SECOND CHANCE: Former HomeFed executive Robert Adelizzi will oversee the thrift operations of Temple-Inland.

PHOTO : STARTING OVER: Robert Adelizzi will be running thrifts in Texas.

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