Thomas J. Wageman is heading home.

After leading an unsuccessful effort to revive San Diego's HomeFed Corp., Mr. Wageman is returning to Texas, where he earned a national reputation for managing thrifts in crisis.

Mr. Wageman, 58, is heading an investor group that has agreed to buy Sunbelt National Mortgage Co., Dallas, from the Resolution Trust Corp. Among his backers: the direct investment arm of Continental Bank, Chicago. The deal should close by Sept. 30.

Mr. Wageman is no stranger to Sunbelt. Before joining HomeFed last summer, he worked for five years as chief executive of the mortgage company's parent, Sunbelt Savings. While his efforts there were widely praised, Sunbelt Savings -- an amalgam of failed thrifts -- was taken over by the RTC in April 1991.

By the looks of it, Mr. Wageman never planned to leave Texas for long. As part of his employment contract with HomeFed, Mr. Wageman reportedly sold a Dallas home to the thrift company and used the proceeds to buy another house -- not in San Diego but in Dallas. He rented accommodations in California. Mr. Wageman was traveling and couldn't be reached for comment.

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