SAN FRANCISCO - Great Western Financial Corp. on Tuesday said it sold about $200 million of nonperforming single-family mortgages to a subsidiary of Bear Stearns Cos.

The purchase price was not disclosed. But the nation's second-largest thrift company said it discounted the mortgages about 30% to 35% from the original loan balances. indicating a price of $130 million to $140 million.

Great Western, which is based in Chatsworth, Calif, said its move to shed problem assets will result in a special loan-loss provision of about $50 million. It declined to forecast the effect of the provision on its third-quarter earnings.

Cleansing the Balance Sheet

Banks are increasingly using bulk asset sales as an efficient way to slash credit problems. But thrifts have only recently taken that route with problem mortgages.

H.F. Ahmanson & Co., in the first such thrift deal, last month announced a $1.2 billion sale of nonperforming single-family home loans to Bear Stearns. Ahmanson, the nation's largest thrift, rid itself of virtually all its nonperforming mortgage loans.

The package sold by Great Western, its California competitor, included only about 25% of the company's $787 million of nonaccruing single-family loans. "We tried to zero in on loans least likely to return to performing status," a spokesman said.

Variety of Solutions

Following the sale, Great Western's nonperforming assets declined to $1.7 billion, or 4.5% of assets, from $1.95 billion, or 5% of assets, at the end of June.

James F. Montgomery, chairman and chief executive of the thrift company, said in a statement that Great Western is using several methods to dispose of problem assets, including auctions, special arrangements with real estate brokers, and possible future bulk sales.

Year to date, Great Western, which has $38 billion of assets, said it has sold about $643 million of troubled assets

Analysts applauded the Great Western bulk sale, saying it will help the thrift compete more effectively in the mortgage business.

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