Amity Bancshares of Tinley Park, Ill., announced that it was engaging investment bankers Kemper Securities to help it find a buyer.

"It has just become so difficult to keep up with regulations," said Edward Eckert, a vice president and a member of the thrift's board.

Management's Age a Factor

Those are powerful words coming from Mr. Eckert, who spent 40 years as a regulator at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago until retiring four years ago.

Amity is the holding company for Amity Federal Bank for Savings, a $130 million-asset thrift in Chicago's southern suburbs.

The company is well capitalized, with an equity-to-assets ratio of 13%, and a healthy return on average assets of 1.15% in the second quarter of 1993.

Amity has been mentioned as a possible acquisition target by analysts for some time, mainly because the average age of the thrift's board members is about 70 years.

"I think management decided that now is a good time to sell," said one thrift analyst, Linda Stromberg, at Howe Barnes Investments, Chicago.

"They have two choices: Either pass the reins on to someone else, or take the money and run," Ms. Stromberg said.

The timing appears to be excellent. The average price paid by suitors for thrifts in the second quarter was a record 1.55 times book value, according to SNL Securities of Charlottesville, Va.

Amity management's decision to put the bank on the auction block is typical of institutions where officers and directors are near or beyond average retirement ages, experts said. In Amity's case, increased regulations and directors' liabilities have strengthened the resolve of bank officials.

"The emphasis today on the board is almost to the point where they are being made responsible" for management of the institution, said Mr. Eckert.

"Individuals up in years don't want to face the possibility of having to defend themselves in any legal action," Mr. Eckert said.

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