WASHINGTON -- Under-capitalized Chevy Chase Savings Bank had a fiscal third-quarter loss of $15.7 million and is planning to sell part of its business to raise funds.

The thrift lost $16.1 million during the same period of 1991, according to a quarterly filing this week with the Office of Thrift Supervision.

The institution, with $4.8 billion in assets, reported that federal thrift regulators have placed limits on its growth and that the Securities and Exchange Commission is informally investigating its reserves for losses going back to Oct. 1, 1988.

Profit for First 9 Months

Chevy Chase, the area's largest thrift, earned $6 million for the nine months ended June 30. It met both tangible and core capital requirements, but risk-based capital was $6 million below the required level.

The thrift is owned by a real estate company controlled by financier B.F. Saul Jr.

Despite its problems, the thrift is poised for a rebound, Mr. Saul said in an interview, and could earn more than $20 million after taxes for the fiscal year. He also said Chevy Chase would be in full capital compliance within 10 days.

"We've got good spreads, a good franchise, and we are making good money," he said.

Major Foreclosures

In recent months, Chevy Chase has been forced to take over several huge residential real estate projects in Maryland and Virginia, making it one of the largest landholders in the region.

Nonperforming assets make up 13.2% of its total assets but dropped slightly in the quarter, to $633.2 million, from $643.3 million at March 31. The thrift also increased reserves for loan losses by $47.8 million in the quarter.

"It was a miserable earnings quarter, but they improved their capital ratios," said Celia Martin, a bank analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co., Washington. The thrift is talking to investment bankers and is willing to sell a minority interest through a public offering, the OTS filing said.

Chevy Chase has entered into a written capital agreement and a capital directive with the OTS. It is also subject to growth restrictions, which prohibit it from increasing total assets above $5.5 billion. The OTS must also approve changes in directors and senior management.

Capital Monitor

A $75 million issue of 10-year subordinated notes from First Security Corp. was priced with a 7.5% coupon at 99.582 to yield 7.56%, or 108 basis points more than the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes.

The Salt Lake City bank company's notes are rated Baa1 by

* * * Moody's Investors Service and BBB by Standard & Poor's Corp.

Moody's upgraded the senior debt rating of First Interstate Bancorp to Baa1, from Baa2, citing the Los Angeles company's progress in dealing with bad loans. Earlier this week, Standard & Poor's affirmed its BBB rating for First Interstate.

Moody's also upgraded the senior debt rating of Zions Bancorp., Salt Lake City, to Baa1 from Baa2. It said the upgrading reflects improving asset quality, good capitalization, and strengthening core income.

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