Pomona First Federal Bank went public last month more than a century after opening its doors as a mutual thrift.

Founded in 1892, the Pomona, Calif.-based thrift completed its stock offering March 18 and began trading on the Nasdaq market March 29. Formerly known as Pomona First Federal Savings and Loan Association, the former mutual and its newly formed holding company, PPF Bancorp, received more than $300 million in stock subscriptions.

Pomona First Federal president and chief executive Larry M. Rinehart said uncertainty over the future of federal thrift regulation and the need for expansion capital were two basic reasons behind the conversion decision.

"There's so much talk about the Office of Thrift Supervision being phased out," he said. "We know the conversion regulations under the OTS, and who's to say what those regulations will be if someone else takes over for the OTS. We know the rules now.

"Also, we do have the need for capital because we have growth plans for the association."

Pomona First Federal has $2 billion in assets and 22 branches covering a territory that stretches from its home base near Los Angeles more than 100 miles east to Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley.

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