Facific First Chairman Resigns

SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific First Financial Corp., Seattle, announced that Jerry E. Pohlman, its chairman and chief executive, resigned for personal reasons.

The company, with $7.5 billion in assets, has not named a replacement. But William D. Pettit Jr., the company's president and chief operating officer, is considered a leading contender.

Mr. Pettit, a finance and real estate specialist, was hired from Seafirst Corp. three years ago.

Mr. Pholman's resignation, effective immediately, comes 18 months after Pacific First was acquired by Royal Trustco Ltd., a Toronto-based trust company. Mr. Pohlman, an economist and longtime thrift executive, joined Pacific First in 1985 as chief of the company's banking group. He became chairman and chief executive in 1987 and engineered the sale of the company to Royal Trust.

His resignation was "strictly a personal decision," a Pacific First spokesman said. Mr. Pohlman could not be reached for comment.

Linked to Problem Loans

Canadian analysts said, however, that Mr. Pohlman's departure may be linked to an expected report on a surge in commercial real estate loan problems at Pacific First, which would be divulged when second-quarter results are announced.

The company has aggressively built its commercial construction portfolio in recent years, which totals about $650 million in California, Nevada, and the Northwest.

"There is a fair amount of construction loans in California that will go sour," said Alain Tuchmaier, analyst with McLean McCarthy Ltd., Toronto. "When tht happened in Europe, Royal Trustco made the local bankers the fall guys."

Pacific First declined to comment on credit quality trends in advance of its second-quarter release.

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