Financier Ronald Perelman is trying to sell off piecemeal the $10 billion-asset Texas thrift the acquired from the government at bargain-basement prices, sources said Friday.

Mr. Perelman has distributed bid packages for chunks of the Texas and Oklahoma operations of First Gibraltar Bank, the largest thrift in Texas.

The sale of Sooner Federal, First Gibraltar's $ 600 million-asset thrift in Tulsa, Okla., was nearing completion Friday, according to sources. They said an announcement was planned for Monday.

Mr. Perelman has not ruled out selling First Gibraltar outright. The thrift had a book value of $500 million as of June 30, but it is not clear how much the financier could get by selling it whole or in parts.

Controversial Beginning

A spokesman for MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, the parent company that operates Mr. Perelman's far-flung empire, declined to comment.

The proposed dissolving of First Gibraltar comes four years after Mr. Perelman created the franchise in one of the most controversial deals ever cut by the defunct Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

Mr. Perelman assembled First Gibraltar by melding a package of failed thrifts he acquired from the government for $ 355 million. As part of the transaction, the financier gained $900 million in tax breaks, plus a lucrative contract to manage and liquidate distressed loans and properties held by the failed institutions.

Mr. Perelman already has mined most of the tax breaks and property management fees flowing from the 1988 transaction. He now wants to take advantage of a reviving acquisitions market in Texas, according to sources in Texas. The ailing First City Bancorporation of Texas is understood to be among the institutions he would like to acquire.

Most of First Gibraltar's income since 1989 has been derived from the management of distressed thrift properties. That case load stood at $ 1.4 billion at the end of 1991, down from an original $4 billion.

A Return to Earnings

What's more, the government six months ago redeemed $3 billion of high-yielding notes issued to First Gibraltar in 1988 in lieu of cash federal insurance payments needed to erase insolvencies at the predecessor institutions. First Gibraltar booked a $160 million charge to 1991 earnings, recording a loss of $62.4 million for the year.

The company earned $75 million in the first half of this year.

First Gibraltar operates 135 branches in Texas and 26 branches in Oklahoma.

The principal problem with a bid for all or parts of First Gibraltar's branch franchise is that few loans are on the books, according to sources familiar with the piece-by-piece auction. The company at March 31 held roughly $9 billion of deposits, but only $3 billion of loans.

"With loans being this scarce, deposits have to be viewed as a long-term investment," said one banker familiar with the bid packages.

BankAmerica's Role

It is not clear what price Mr. Perelman was asking to sell First Gibraltar outright. BankAmerica looked long and hard at the entire franchise, sources say, but had balked at the asking price.

The San Francisco-based company has made several acquisitions in Texas, including Sunbelt Savings, and sources speculated BankAmerica might be more amenable to buying pieces of First Gibraltar that would help round out its current franchise.

Separately, First Union Corp. has audited First Gibraltar, but sources close to that company say it is also lukewarm to acquiring the institution.

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.