In a surprise move, John R. Torrell III resigned today as chairman, chief executive officer and president of CalFed Inc., parent of California Federal Bank, one of the nation’s largest thrifts.
Torrell, who joined CalFed in mid-1988, said he was acceding to the wishes of CalFed’s board. “In stepping aside during a time of momentum and progress at CalFed, I am accommodating the desire of the board to make a change at the helm,” Torrell said.
CalFed, based in Los Angeles, said senior executive Jerry St. Dennis has been appointed president and chief operating officer.
The resignation comes about a month after reports surfaced that CalFed and GlenFed Inc., the parent of Glendale Federal Bank, had held merger talks in May but had broken them off. If the two companies had merged, it would have created the nation’s largest thrift, with assets of more than $50 billion.
On Thursday, CalFed Inc. reported sharply lower second-quarter earnings of $19.1 million, or 73 cents a share, off from $38.3 million, or $1.40 a share, for the 1988 quarter.
Analyst Michael Abrahams said he was “surprised but not shocked” about Torrell’s resignation. Abrahams said he was uncertain if the move stemmed from the failed merger talks.