Although Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan was in the thick of last year's takeover battle for First Interstate Bancorp, he is steering clear of the current fight for Great Western Financial Corp.

In an interview, Deputy Mayor Gary Mendoza said the mayor does not have a position on the issue.

That is not surprising. If H.F. Ahmanson & Co.'s hostile offer were to succeed, analysts predict as many as 3,000 layoffs from the closing of 180 branches, most of them near or in Los Angeles.

If Washington Mutual Inc.'s white-knight deal succeeded, the city would lose a corporate headquarters and about $2.1 million in annual tax revenue.

"It's very difficult to say that any one of the potential victors will mean more or less for the community. There's no real clear winner in this case," said Gareth Planck, an analyst with UBS Securities.

It is a particularly difficult time for Mayor Riordan to step into the fray. He is up for reelection in November, and though the race is said to be easy for him, job losses are still a touchy issue.

Last year, when Mayor Riordan joined the acrimonious fight over First Interstate, he supported the white-knight bid by Minneapolis-based First Bank System Inc. against the hostile offer from Wells Fargo & Co. First Bank's bid would have meant fewer job losses in Los Angeles, but it did not succeed.

Picking the losing side in one high-profile takeover battle may have discouraged Mayor Riordan from trying his luck again.

"He learned his lesson," Mr. Planck said. "Politicians-unless they're willing to write the check and compensate shareholders-they don't have the final say."

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