Firm Seeks OK to Boost Equity Stake in Bank

San Diego County Business Editor

A Los Angeles brokerage firm has applied for regulatory approval to increase its 9.8% equity stake in Great American First Savings Bank.

If it receives the go-ahead from the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Wedbush Corp. could increase its stock holdings in the San Diego-based company to as much as 24.9%.

Both Wedbush and Great American officials maintained Friday that the filing did not signal an attempted takeover of Great American.

"This is just a technical filing," one Wedbush executive insisted. "This was not based on any intentions; it's just a prudent business practice (to) recognize regulatory requirements. If we inadvertently hit the 10% level, we'd be past the regulatory level (that requires a filing)."

Great American officials described the filing as "routine" and maintained that the bank "enjoys a good relationship" with Wedbush.

"Great American is pleased with the confidence Wedbush has placed in our stock," the bank said in a prepared statement." There is no indication this is a takeover attempt; to the contrary, they have publicly indicated just the opposite."

News of the filing occurred less than one week before Great American First Savings Bank shareholders are scheduled to vote on a merger with profitable Home Federal Savings & Loan of Arizona.

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