Two highly regarded Glendale Federal executives have been appointed to the new California Federal's management team, leading observers to expect the thrift to emerge as an able competitor in the cutthroat California retail and small-business market.
Robert R. Trujillo has been designated to head CalFed's branch operations and marketing, while Terry D. Hess would be in charge of small- business and middle-market banking.
"With these guys, the new thrift will have real marketing power," said Campbell K. Chaney, an analyst with Sandler O'Neill & Partners, Walnut Creek, Calif. "They know how to steal business from the larger banks."
California Federal Bank, San Francisco, and Glendale Federal Bank, based in the Los Angeles area, agreed to merge in February. The new thrift company, with $51 billion of assets, would take the name of Glenfed's holding company, Golden State Bancorp, but operate under the CalFed name.
Since announcing their deal, CalFed and Glenfed have watched both of California's biggest banks-BankAmerica Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co.-agree to merge with out-of-state partners. Analysts said those transactions would create opportunities for the new Golden State Bancorp.
"When you have big companies merging, some crumbs will fall off the table, and these guys have developed some successful methods for picking up those crumbs," said Salomon Smith Barney analyst Thomas O'Donnell. "This new management team is very entrepreneurial, very quick on its feet, and very smart."
Glenfed is known for the in-your-face advertising tactic of disparaging its California competitors. Last month Glenfed entertained a crowd of auto racing fans in Sonoma by blowing up a three-story stagecoach that symbolized Wells Fargo.
Customers of Washington Mutual Inc., which in March announced plans to merge with H.F. Ahmanson & Co., are sure to be targeted by the new CalFed as well, Mr. Chaney said.
"Their easiest target is going to be Washington Mutual because of its nonlocal name," he said. "Glendale was successful in kicking around Wells Fargo and BofA, and I believe they will be even more aggressive against Wamu."
Mr. Trujillo would take the titles of executive vice president and director of retail distribution and marketing. He joined Glenfed in 1979 as a research analyst and was named executive vice president in February 1996.
"Nobody knows the California marketplace and the dynamics and changes that have been affecting it like Bob Trujillo," said Charlotte A. Chamberlain, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. of Los Angeles.
Mr. Hess joined Glenfed in 1986, spent much of the early 1990s dealing with troubled assets that resulted from the thrift crisis, and was named executive vice president and chief credit officer in 1991. His new title would be executive vice president and director of business banking.
Both would report to executive vice president Peter Thomsen of CalFed. Mr. Thomsen, Mr. Hess, and Mr. Trujillo were unavailable for interviews.
According to some observers, the big challenge would not lie in luring business away from Wells Fargo and BankAmerica, but in retaining a sizable group of Glenfed customers who are likely to be merger-weary.
The CalFed deal is the latest in a series by Golden State. The thrift company on Monday completed its purchase of RedFed Bancorp, and in April finished its acquisition of Cenfed Financial Corp. These two deals added nearly $2.5 billion of deposits that Glenfed "paid dearly for," Ms. Chamberlain said.
"The real test for Mr. Trujillo will be hanging on to RedFed and Cenfed customers who for the second time will be told, 'Oh by the way, you have to order new checks again,'" she said.
Two other Glenfed executives would remain on board at the new CalFed but would not be involved in running its day-to-day business. Stephen J. Trafton, chairman and chief executive officer, and vice chairman Richard A. Fink would oversee the thrift's goodwill lawsuits against the federal government.
Gerald J. Ford, CalFed's chairman and CEO, and Carl Webb, its president and chief operating officer, would retain those titles at the new thrift company.
Out of jobs, though, will be more than 800 Glenfed employees, who received official notice of the fact June 30. Roughly 200 are to leave the thrift at the close of the deal, which is slated for the end of August; the other 600 are to work through the transition.
CalFed gave pink slips to only 15 employees, a spokeswoman said.