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N. California Group Buys Equitable S&L; : New Owners Replace Old Management, Promise Revitalization

Times Staff Writer

Equitable Savings & Loan Assn. has been sold for an undisclosed amount to a group of Northern California investors who promise to breath new life into the ailing Stanton-based thrift.

The new owners, Vesteq Financial Services Inc. of San Mateo, replaced the previous management and plan to pump in $3.5 million in cash as well as $2.5 million in real estate equity to put the S&L;, with $55 million in as sets, back on sound footing and to satisfy government regulators who have restricted the troubled S&L;'s operations.

George Hale, the new president and chief executive officer, said Monday that he is consolidating the S&L;'s six branches by closing down Equitable’s offices in Stanton, Laguna Hills and Huntington Beach.

Accounts from those three branches will be transferred to Equitable’s Bellflower, Fountain Valley and Irvine offices--a move Hale said should save $750,000 annually. The S&L;'s headquarters will be moved from Stanton to Newport Beach next month.

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“We have a specific operating plan which has been approved by both (federal and state) regulatory agencies and which is expected to make the savings and loan profitable within the first two to three months,” Hale said.

Hale declined to give details of the plan but added that the thrift will focus on “lending to buyers of apartment buildings,” and other real estate investments and limited partnerships.

Charles Howell, vice president of Equitable, said the S&L; plans to increase assets by $24 million in a year’s time by paying higher interest rates on large deposits.

Negative Net Worth

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According to a statement of condition, Equitable had a negative net worth of $837,285 on Dec. 31, 1984, a situation that led the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to restrict the S&L;'s operations. Equitable had $53 million in total assets at year’s end.

Both the federal board and the state savings and loan commissioner approved Vesteq’s application to acquire Equitable last month.

Vesteq Financial Services Inc. was formed specifically to purchase Equitable from its public shareholders. Principals of the new corporation include Hale, Chairman Mark Stevens and Directors Bruce Siriani and Philip Andrews. The latter three also are principals of Vesteq Financial Corp., a real estate investment and syndication firm.


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