HAWTHORNE, Calif. - Hawthorne Financial Corp., holding company for Hawthorne Savings and Loan, consented to a federal regulatory directive requiring the company to increase its capital by at least $15 million before Dec. 15.

Hawthorne officials said they have retained an investment banker to explore ways of achieving compliance with the order. The investment banker was not identified.

While those options will likely include selling Hawthorne, the company said in a statement that it was considering a rights offering of common stock, a preferred stock issue, a qualifying debt issue, or any combination of these.

Hawthorne, once one of the best-capitalized thrifts in Southern California, is "undercapitalized," with a core capital ratio of 3.73%. The Office of Thrift Supervision, which issued the order, requires at least a 4% core capital ratio.

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