ContiFinancial Corp. has promoted several key executives in its home equity lending division after a year in which the unit more than doubled originations.

ContiMortgage, Horsham, Pa., which originates, services, and sells home equity loans, was responsible for most of ContiFinancial's profits last year, the parent company reported.

ContiFinancial, New York, more than doubled its earnings in fiscal year 1996, according to a press release. The company's annual report is due out at the end of the week.

Robert A. Major was promoted to president and chief executive of ContiMortgage after a year as president and chief operating officer.

This frees up former ContiMortgage chief executive James Moore to spend more time on the operations of ContiFinancial, where he is president and chief executive. He remains chairman of ContiMortgage.

"When ContiFinancial went public," Mr. Moore said, "I picked up a lot of other responsibilities." Although Mr. Moore will continue to work on strategic planning for the home equity lender, Mr. Major takes responsibility for the subsidiary's day-to-day operations.

"We're trying to tell the market that we're pleased with his performance," Mr. Moore said. "We want everyone to know that he has the backing of the board."

Mr. Major came to ContiMortgage a year ago from NationsCredit, NationsBank Corp.'s home equity lending arm, where he was chief executive.

Robert J. Babjak, a senior vice president and formerly chief credit officer, will replace Mr. Major as chief operating officer.

One of ContiMortgage's main goals for 1996 is to expand originations in the West, Mr. Babjak said. The company will open an operations office in July in Orange, Calif., he said. The 12-person office will underwrite, fund, and originate on both the wholesale and retail sides.

Margaret M. Curry, vice president of servicing, also is getting a new title, senior vice president, to reflect her parity with Mr. Babjak, Mr. Moore said. Ms. Curry and Mr. Babjak will report to Mr. Major.

ContiMortgage's earnings record is matched by its portfolio's low delinquency rate. For the fiscal year ended March 31, delinquencies stood at 2.51%, well below the home equity industry average of 4%.

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