Neb. Thrift Company Plans Closings, Layoffs

Commercial Federal Corp. of Omaha plans to sell or close 22 of its 258 branches by year's end and eliminate 129 jobs in two loan offices.The $13.1 billion-asset thrift company said in a Nov. 15 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects to take a pretax charge of $3 million to $4 million in the fourth quarter.

The company has not disclosed how much it expects to save in annual operating costs after the cutbacks. Larry R. Goddard, Commercial Federal's director of investor relations, said the company plans to make a formal announcement by yearend that will detail the financial benefits.

Mr. Goddard said the thrift company decided to restructure after assessing seven bank acquisitions it completed in the past two-and-a-half years.

"There was some consolidation during the acquisitions, but we continued to look at what we had and where we could streamline our operations," Mr. Goddard said. He said the company wants to sell branches that are too close to other Commercial Federal locations, lie outside the company's core markets, or are in smaller communities.

The layoffs will occur at loan offices in Wichita, Kan., and Denver, both of which are being closed. Commercial Federal plans to move all loan-servicing work to Omaha.

- Craig Woker

Pa. Company to Buy N.J. Auto Loan Firm

Susquehanna Bancshares in Pennsylvania is planning to buy a New Jersey-based automobile finance company for about $41 million in stock.The Lititz-based company said last week that it would exchange about 2.36 million shares of its common stock for Boston Service Co. of Jamesburg, N.J.

Boston Service Co., trading under the name Hann Financial Services, originates and services automobile loans and leases in four states. It services more than $800 million in automobile-related receivables.

Susquehanna, which has $4.3 billion of assets, said it expects Boston Service to be a major source of fee income.

- Louis Whiteman

Calif. Bank Says OCC Capital Order Is Filled

Goleta (Calif.) National Bank said last week that regulators have deemed the $246 million-asset bank adequately capitalized.The OCC had recently issued a "prompt corrective action" order against Goleta, a subsidiary of Community West Bancshares, claiming that the bank had miscalculated its Tier 1 capital. The OCC said that two loan securitizations worth $203 million completed in the last year had left the bank "significantly undercapitalized."

To correct the situation, the board of directors quickly provided $11.2 million to the bank in equity and debt, the bank said.

- Matt Andrejczak

Small Tex. Thrift Makes $6M Deal, Its First Ever

A $153.7 million-asset Texas thrift is planning its first acquisition ever - a $6 million deal for a smaller thrift in a nearby town.East Texas Financial Services Inc. of Tyler plans to complete the acquisition of $38 million-asset Gilmer (Tex.) Financial Services Inc. in the first quarter of 2000. Gilmer Financial, located 35 miles from East Texas' headquarters, is the parent company of the one-branch Gilmer Savings Bank.

After the deal's completion, the Gilmer location will become the third full-service banking location of East Texas Financial.

The larger thrift also owns two loan agency offices.

East Texas expects to slash 40% of Gilmer's expenses in the first year after the deal is completed, and it says it can do so without layoffs.

- Craig Woker

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