Kevin M. Twomey, chief financial officer of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, Calif., was elected Tuesday to its board of directors. He will be vice chairman of Ahmanson, which owns the nation's second-largest thrift, $47 billion-asset Home Savings of America.

In a statement, chairman and chief executive Charles R. Rinehart said the promotion recognized Mr. Twomey's "increasingly broad and key role in the management of this company, which goes well beyond that of the traditional chief financial officer."

Mr. Twomey was thekey strategist in Ahmanson's failed hostile bid for Great Western Financial, Chatsworth, this year.

But he has been the architect of other, widely praised moves. Among them was Ahmanson's acquisition last year of 61 First Interstate branches in California. First Interstate sold the branches to clear the way to sell itself to Wells Fargo.

Spokeswoman Mary Trigg said Mr. Twomey was also responsible for Ahmanson's decision to sell its branches in New York, Illinois, and western Florida. The company chose to sell because it believed it could not gain significant market share to be an important player in those regions, she said.

Mr. Twomey, 50, joined Ahmanson in 1993 as its chief financial officer.

He held the same position at MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings' First Gibraltar Bank from 1989 to 1993. Before that he worked for MCorp and its predecessors.

MCorp, Dallas, failed because of problem real estate and energy loans. Much of what remains of the company is now a unit of Banc One Corp.

Mr. Twomey is one of three inside directors on H.F. Ahmanson's board. The others are Mr. Rinehart and Bruce Willison, the company's president.

Ms. Trigg said Mr. Twomey's promotion to vice chairman does not affect the ordering of the thrift's top executives. She said Mr. Willison continues to be the thrift's second-ranked executive, and Mr. Twomey is No. 3.

Along with the company's chief administrative officer, Madeleine Kleiner, the four make up the office of the chairman at the thrift.

As the executive in charge of mergers and acquisitions, Mr. Twomey is probably playing a crucial role in Ahmanson's deliberations on what its next move should be.

Having lost to Washington Mutual Inc., Seattle, in the bidding for Great Western, Ahmanson itself is a likely candidate for acquisition by another thrift or bank, many analysts say. Washington Mutual, which rescued Great Western from Ahmanson's bid, is often mentioned as a likely buyer.

Alternatively, Ahmanson could make another acquisition itself to become more competitive in California and the consumer finance business it is trying to build, analysts also say.

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