Carver Bancorp, the nation's largest minority-owned thrift company, wants to operate less like "a giant mutual fund" and more like the lender it wants to become.

So the New York company has agreed to buy $100 million of adjustable- rate mortgages from Chase Manhattan Bank and Countrywide Home Loans-about $50 million from each.

To pay for them Carver will sell $72 million of money market investment securities (taking a $1.2 million pretax charge) and borrow $28 million from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.

The idea is to increase revenue so Carver can make more loans. It has been a mediocre performer, with return on average equity below 4% and return on average assets below 0.3% for the past four years.

Buying the loans will "free us to operate more as a lender," said Thomas L. Clark Jr., Carver's president and chief executive officer. "Our growth going forward will be strictly driven by the lending side of the bank."

In particular, he said, he plans to make more adjustable-rate mortgage loans that can weather interest rate changes.

Mr. Clark said his job has been like running a "giant mutual fund" because Carver had so few of its own loans on the books.

The company owns Carver Federal Savings Bank, a thrift with seven branches in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and Nassau County.

Carver also bought bulk loans from Chase, its correspondent bank, in March of last year-a $26.3 million package of adjustable mortgages. Mr. Clark, a former New York State banking regulator, said that the two companies are developing a mentor relationship.

But the acquisition of the loans is strictly business, he added. "This was not some socially responsible deal. This was a business decision for all parties."

Mr. Clark said the deals would push Carver's $371 million of assets to $400 million.

An analyst who follows the company said he's pleased by its plan for restructuring its balance sheet.

"I'm still optimistic about the bank," said Joe Gladue, a bank analyst at the Chapman Co. in Baltimore. "They obviously have a long way to go, but they're moving in the right direction."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.