An Oregon holding company has appointed a chief executive to run its two California thrifts two months after regulators ordered it to beef up management.

Portland-based Wilshire Financial Services Group, a nine-year-old financial services company that buys, services, and securitizes real estate loans, has hired Sheryl A. Morehead to lead First Bank of Beverly Hills, Calabasas, and Girard Savings Bank, San Diego.

The two thrifts, which $1.5 billion-asset Wilshire purchased in 1993 and 1994, respectively, are slated to be merged under a plan to focus on wholesale banking. No date has been set for the merger, which was announced last spring, but both thrifts are already administered out of Wilshire's Portland headquarters.

The new institution, to be called First Bank of Beverly Hills, would buy and work out nonperforming mortgages, originate multifamily and commercial loans, purchase wholesale deposits, and make investments.

The company in December hired Bill Schack as chief credit officer. Last summer, it had designated Scott Stevenson, former Girard chief executive, as president of the combined thrifts.

The appointment of Ms. Morehead as CEO follows the Office of Thrift Supervision's November imposition of cease-and-desist orders on the two thrifts.

The agency ordered them to bring in more experienced management to handle their recent growth and barred them from growing further.

"Yes, this was to address the regulators' concerns, but it was not a requirement," Wilshire CEO Andrew Wiederhorn said of Ms. Morehead's appointment. "It was a natural step in our growth to strengthen the management and infrastructure of our institutions to address the growth they've had."

Girard has $400 million of assets, while First Bank has $143 million. Between December 1995 and last March, they grew to that size from combined assets of just $180 million, .

Ms. Morehead, 48, joins Wilshire after serving as chief credit officer of First Los Angeles Bank, now part of City National of Beverly Hills, and chief operating officer in the United States for First Los Angeles' Italian parent company. Before that, she worked for First Federal Bank in Santa Monica, as chief loan officer and executive vice president, and for Bank of California and First Interstate Bancorp, both in Los Angeles.

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