After a decade in Californnia, a small Illinois bank holding company has pulled out.

Countryside-based SBC Inc. has dissolved a thrift subsidiary in Fontana, Calif., that it judged was too small to survive.

Last year SBC whittled down the assets of Secure Savings Bank to $20 million-they had once been as high as $55 million-and shut down its two branches. The deposits, which had also been reduced, were assumed Dec. 13 by Redlands Federal Bank.

The process was formally completed about a month ago, after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. approved a request to relinquish deposit insurance.

SBC continues to run $350 million-asset State Bank of Countryside.

Secure Savings, which had about $45 million of assets when SBC bought it a decade ago, was solvent and profitable, said SBC president Charles M. Shea. The thrift had no special problems and wasn't especially hard to run from halfway across the country, Mr. Shea said.

"It just took up too much time," he said. "It was too small to compete in the market."

Last year SBC concluded that the thrift couldn't grow much. The banking market in Fontana, a small San Bernardino County community east of Los Angeles, is "dominated by the big banks," Mr. Shea said; Bank of America had a branch right across the street.

SBC tried to sell the thrift but found no depository institutions willing to buy.

Several individual buyers came forward, but SBC officials preferred the safety of a known bank, Mr. Shea said.

Failing to find one, they opted to shut the thrift down.

"It was just too small," Mr. Shea said. "We never should have bought something that small."

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