HF Bancorp, a $1 billion-asset Southern California thrift, said Thursday that it may take a $2.9 million charge to current- quarter earnings to cover the costs of a customer check-kiting scheme.

The announcement came three days after Temple-Inland Inc., a Texas paper and building products firm, said it had agreed to buy HF for $120 million. It was unclear whether Thursday's announcement would scuttle the deal.

Analysts said that the one-time, pretax charge is unlikely to dissuade Temple-Inland from going through with the transaction. These analysts said HF's 18-branch Southern California franchise is particularly attractive.

"This could have some effect on the pricing of the deal, but I would think that Temple-Inland would overlook the charge," said Martin Friedman of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. in Arlington, Va.

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