An investor group that already controls 9.8% of East Texas Financial Services Inc. has made an unsolicited $20 million cash offer to seize control of the thrift.

The group, headed by Texas banking veteran William D. Vaughan, offered $16 per share Aug. 23 for the $151.1 million-asset thrift based in Tyler. The offer represents a 23% premium over the $13 per share that East Texas was trading at Friday afternoon.

The move follows a request by the investor group to meet in July with the board and officers about ways to improve the thrift's profitability.

East Texas' earnings for the three quarters that ended June 30 fell 34% compared with the same period a year earlier, to $282,000. The thrift's return on assets from April 1998 to the end of March, the most recently available 12-month period, was 0.39%, compared with the industry average of 1.26%, Mr. Vaughan said.

"Left alone, I believe East Texas is likely to continue to suffer disappointing operating results," said Mr. Vaughan, who has worked in the Texas banking industry for 20 years, most recently as president of First National Bank of Paris, Tex. East Texas officials did not return phone calls.

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