A charitable arm of Union Bank has made a half-million-dollar investment in Family Savings Bank, a federally chartered thrift said to be the largest owned by blacks in the state.

Family Savings Bank can use the investment to boost capital and fund mortgage loans in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, said Ron Thigpen, the thrift's chief operating officer.

Union Bank expects the purchase to help it comply with community reinvestment rules, added Richard C. Hartnack, a Union Bank vice chairman.

Family Savings Bank has $170 million in assets and operates four offices in lower-income areas in Southern California, including its head office in south-central Los Angeles.

Mr. Thigpen said that even though the thrift lost $273,000 last year, it has enough capital to meet the regulatory requirements for a well- capitalized institution. Also, the institution was $215,000 in the black in the first half of this year. Nonetheless, the Union Bank investment will be a welcome addition to Family Savings' capital base, he said.

Wayne-Kent Bradshaw, president and chief executive of Family Savings since 1989, worked for Union Bank for 14 years, primarily as a trainer of commercial lenders. Mr. Thigpen said that Mr. Bradshaw's experience with Union helped bring the bank and the thrift together.

"He knew people at Union Bank, and they knew him and had confidence in him," Mr. Thigpen said.

San Francisco-based Union Bank, which has $12.8 billion in assets, is the fourth banking company in the last three years to buy a stake in Family Savings. The other institutions are American Savings Bank, of Irvine; First Interstate Bank of California, and the Federal National Mortgage Association, each of which invested $1 million.

Family Savings was acquired in 1990 by Opportunity Funding Corp., a Los Angeles-based charitable group that supports minority-owned businesses.

The Union Bank investment was made by Union Bank Foundation, a charitable group owned by the bank. Mr. Hartnack said the foundation hopes to hold the Family Savings stock for at least five years, before donating it to local community development groups or churches.

Mr. Hartnack said the Family Savings investment was made as part of a strategy Union Bank has devised of buying stakes in "quality" community lenders, rather than competing with them.

"We thought it was one of the most effective ways" to comply with community reinvestment rules, he said.

Mr. Hartnack said that Union Bank is making similar investments in community lending banks under development in San Diego and Oakland.

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