multifamily and commercial mortgage banking firm. Frederic Forster, Stephen Gordon, and David DePillo have formed Financial Institutional Partners Mortgage Company LLC to take advantage of the consolidating California thrift market. Through their Irvine, Calif.-based firm, the trio plans to make $1 million to $10 million multifamily and commercial real estate loans for acquisitions and refinancings. It is a niche that they say the state's swelling thrifts no longer want to serve. "We can afford to price it right," Mr. DePillo said. Because its cost structure is lower than a traditional thrift's, the firm can react quickly to changes in the market, he said. Mr. Forster is former president and chief operating officer of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., the Irwindale, Calif., thrift now being acquired by Washington Mutual Inc. Mr. DePillo was director of multifamily banking at Ahmanson's Home Savings unit and president of Ahmanson Development Inc. Mr. Gordon, a former partner with Sandler O'Neill & Partners, investment bankers to the thrift industry. He is also the founder of Genesis Financial Partners, a hedge fund that invested in East Coast thrifts. The new mortgage company will offer both adjustable and fixed-rate products. About 25% of its business will be affordable housing loans. Observers agreed that there was an opportunity for the group to serve the California market. "They're very bright, very aggressive thinking people, and I think that there's an opportunity for them," said James Moynihan, senior vice president at Advest Group, Boston. "The bigger thrifts have not entirely forgotten that market, but I think that an independent group can provide a much quicker service than a much larger company." He added that the larger the other financial institutions get, "the more difficult it is for the small businessman to get service and to get local decisions." Financial Institutional Partners, which opened its doors last month, has four offices in California. The partners plan to expand into other states by next year.

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