In what was depicted as an effort to sharpen its focus on retail banking, Coast Federal Bank of Los Angeles has agreed to sell an accounts- receivable financing unit to Imperial Credit Industries Inc. for $140 million in cash.

The deal, which is expected to close in 30 days, should provide a small boost to the earnings of Coast Savings Financial Inc., the thrift's parent, said James Marks, an analyst with Hancock Institutional Equity Services.

The financing unit, Coastfed Business Credit Corp., has about 22 employees and $300 million in committed lines of credit to California companies. About $140 million of these lines has been tapped.

H. Wayne Snavely, chairman and chief executive of Newport Beach-based Imperial Credit, said that less than a quarter of the acquisition price is for the CoastFed Business itself. The rest is for utilized lines of credit that will be transfered to Imperial Credit's books.

He said Coastfed was very profitable, has operated for 40 years, and has been owned by Coast Federal Bank for 11 years.

Ray Martin, chairman and chief executive of $8.6 billion-asset Coast Federal, said the sale would allow the thrift company to focus more on retail services.

While Coastfed has been a very successful subsidiary, its sale "will further sharpen Coast's focus on its retail banking franchise," Mr. Martin said.

Coast Federal has 92 branches in California.

Imperial Credit was spun off in 1992 from Imperial Bancorp to raise capital for the $2.6 billion-asset Inglewood-based holding company. Imperial Bancorp still owns a 40% stake in Imperial Credit, which is publicly traded, and has assets of $1.8 billion.

Imperial Credit's primary business is mortgage banking, although it has units that finance equipment and fast-food franchises, and a thrift, Southern Pacific Thrift & Loan.

Mr. Snavely said Imperial Credit plans to expand Coastfed's operations outside California. The plan is for Coastfed's employees and managers to remain, and for the finance company to be a unit of the thrift.

The acquisition, Mr. Snavely said, will also help Imperial Credit add much-needed earnings assets to the books of Southern Pacific, which he said was over-capitalized. It will also help Imperial Credit rely less on mortgage originations for income, he added.

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