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BANKING/FINANCE : Thrift Regulators Change Management at Three Institutions

Compiled by James S. Granelli / Times staff writer

West Coast thrift regulators exercised their muscle in the last two months, forcing presidents out of two Orange County institutions and wooing another from a third.

The regional Office of Thrift Supervision played a part in the changes at Universal Savings Bank in Orange and at University Savings Bank and Pioneer Savings Bank, both in Newport Beach.

Pioneer lost Anne Bacon after regulators recommended her for the president’s post at troubled First Western Savings in Las Vegas. Bacon, who left early this month, was a former Downey Savings & Loan executive whom regulators chose to be president of the failed Butterfield Savings & Loan in Santa Ana and to manage other failed thrifts.

“They called me,” Bacon said about the call she received from First Western. “I wasn’t even looking.”

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She now has a thrift with $1.1 billion in assets and 22 branches, compared to Pioneer’s one-office operation and $37 million in assets.

At University Savings, Thomas J. Bernard quit under regulatory pressure last month as chairman, president and chief executive, but he is still the majority shareholder.

For several months, Bernard had wanted to get out of the heavily regulated S&L; business to work in real estate development, an area he knew better, said Donald Dauer, a mortgage broker and founding University director. Dauer took over as chairman and acting president.

Unlike Pioneer and University, both of which are still looking for new presidents, Universal Savings found a new president quickly.

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Thomas Haupert returned to Orange County this month to head Universal, replacing Lee B. Hagerson. Regulators, a source said, had sought the ouster of Hagerson, who was hired last year when Taiwanese businessman J.S. Chang bought the S&L.;

Haupert had earned kudos from regulators for managing the failed American Diversified Savings Bank in Costa Mesa. American Diversified, with unusual thrift investments in wind farms and other alternative-energy projects, took the national spotlight briefly in June, 1988, when regulators closed it and refunded a record $1.14 billion to depositors.


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