SAN FRANCISCO -- California Federal Bank named Edward G. Harshfield, a specialist in problem institutions, as its president and chief executive Wednesday.
The Los Angeles-based thrift also said it would replace Michael W. Arthur, its controversial chairman for the past two months, with David Gilbert, a Massachusetts-based bank consultant.
Crisis Seems Eased
The announcements appeared to ease a crisis that has pitted California Federal's board against some of its major shareholders. The conflict reached a boiling point in recent days as investors went public with their grievances.
Stockholders said they have been angry since July when the board forced out Jerry St. Dennis, the former chairman, who had engineered a successful recapitalization of the nation's sixth-largest thrift.
The board also fired the thrift's president and chief executive, William L. Callender, but asked him to remain until a replacement could be selected. He is to retire after Mr. Harshfield, a Chicago resident, arrives Oct. 18 to assume his duties.
Major shareholders seemed especially pleased with the removal of Mr. Arthur, who had been named during the summer as interim chairman.
Investors had accused the 54-year-old Los Angeles consultant, who had no financial institution experience, of taking a cavalier attitude toward them.
Mr. Gilbert, 47, a banking industry veteran who specializes in data processing, is said to have greater credibility with investors.
Albert Fried Jr., a New York investor who owns about 6% of California Federal's shares, called the management changes "very positive steps" that "should open lines of communication" between shareholders and directors.
Analysts view Mr. Harshfield, 56, as a strong hand who will quickly fill the senior management vacuum created in July. A former executive at Citicorp and Household International. Mr. Harshfield in recent years has developed a reputation as a financial …