Troubled Sun S&L; Agrees to Role by U.S. Regulators

San Diego County Business Editor

Sun Savings & Loan Assn., its net worth now below zero, entered into a consent agreement Friday that allows federal regulators to actively negotiate for either a capital infusion or merger, and enables authorities to eventually appoint a receiver to take control of Sun.

The agreement with the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corp. means that regulators "will play a more active role in negotiating our recapitalization," according to John McEwan, Sun president and chief executive.

Concurrent with the consent agreement, regulators also ordered Sun to write off nearly $1.4 million in additional bad loans. That action dropped Sun's net worth to a negative $818,000, which means Sun's liabilities exceed its assets by that amount.

McEwan said that Sun management disagreed with the regulators' decision to write off the loans--for two condominium projects that Sun participated in with several other thrifts--because the company already had established a $1-million reserve for the bad loans.

Sun officials claim that the company's net worth is $1.27 million as of Dec. 31, while regulators calculated Sun's year-end net worth at $850,000. The two figures are different because of prior disagreements over the total of loan-loss reserves.

Sun's outside auditors, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, "concur in management's position on this matter," Sun officials said Friday.

The consent agreement continues a supervisory agreement entered into by Sun in January, which limits the company's asset and liability growth.

Although the agreement opens the door to a possible appointment of a receiver, McEwan said that regulators have given him "no indication" of such a move.

Sun's efforts to obtain new capital is continuing, McEwan said. "The consent resolution may make it easier to get recapitalized because the regulators have the authority to assist us," he said.

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