Far West S&L; Plans to Make Stock Offering

Times Staff Writer

Far West Financial Corp. said Monday that it plans to sell at least 650,000 shares of its common stock in a move that could raise at least $39 million but would drop the interest of the company's majority owners below 50%.

The Newport Beach-based parent of Far West Savings & Loan Assn. said, meanwhile, that it will institute regular quarterly cash dividends of 30 cents a share and will seek shareholder approval at its annual meeting April 30 for an increase in authorized common stock to allow for a 3-for-1 stock split. The dividends would be paid on a pre-split basis.

According to a preliminary prospectus for the offering, which was filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the proceeds will be used for "general corporate purposes, including the financing of activities of the (S&L;), and its other subsidiaries, and for possible acquisitions."

No Acquisition at Hand

But, the prospectus cautioned, "At the present time, the company is not a party to any agreement or understanding with respect to any acquisition."

Alexander L. Popof, senior vice president for finance, said in a telephone interview that a possible acquisition "is always something to think about" in the current state of the industry, which has seen six failures nationwide in the first six weeks of 1986.

If all 650,000 previously authorized but unissued shares--plus an allotment of 97,500 shares to cover possible over-subscription of the issue--are sold at Monday's closing price on the New York Stock Exchange of $60 a share, the company would raise $44.8 million.

Far West said it expects SEC approval of the offering, which will be underwritten through the New York investment banking firm of Bear, Stearns & Co. within 30 days.

Stake Could Fall to 45%

The company has 2,034,000 shares outstanding, 61.4% of which are owned by the Belzberg brothers, billionaire investors from Vancouver, Canada. Their share of the company would drop to 47% if 650,000 shares are sold and to 45% if all shares are sold.

William Belzberg, chairman of Far West, did not return telephone calls Monday to explain why he and his brothers, Samuel and Hyman, would be willing to dilute their interest in Far West.

"Far West is certainly doing well," Popof said. "But one of the main issues in the thrift business is equity, and this (offering) gives us more equity."

The S&L;'s equity, as a component of net worth, looked healthy to federal regulators at the end of 1985. The S&L;'s net worth was 5.8%, well above the 3% required by the regulators.

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