An investment group led by two brothers have offered at least $24 million for a Chicago-area thrift company.

Tara Enterprises LLC of Oak Brook, Ill., filed documents Dec. 28 with the Securities and Exchange Commission proposing to buy $221 million-asset Hemlock Federal Financial Corp. of Oak Forest. Tara and its leading partners, John H. Daly and Denis J. Daly Jr., already control 9.8% of the thrift's stock, or about $2.2 million worth - the largest block controlled by outside shareholders.

Hemlock officials had not responded to the offer by Thursday afternoon, John Daly said. Maureen G. Partynski, Hemlock's chairman and chief executive officer, had not returned American Banker telephone calls by press time.

The investment group is proposing to purchase all the remaining stock for at least $16.50 per share, a 15.8% premium above the $14.25 at which Hemlock was trading at midday Thursday.

John Daly said Wednesday that no drastic changes would be made immediately at the thrift. Some members could be added to Hemlock's seven-member board, he said, but Hemlock's current management would be retained.

"We're trying to make this as friendly a process as possible," Mr. Daly said. "We want to work with management. We're not trying to fight them."

He said the group's goal is to diversify the thrift's loan portfolio to improve its performance. Hemlock has a traditional thrift balance sheet with a heavy concentration of residential loans.

- Craig Woker

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