Davis Hotels Stake in First Interstate; Calls for Changes

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From Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES - Billionaire investor Marvin Davis has revealed he owns a major stake in First Interstate Bancorp and called on the company to make ``long overdue'' cuts in its costs or consider a buyout by another banking company.

Davis, the investor and oilman, said in a letter to directors of the First Interstate Bancorp that the Los Angeles-based bank holding company should ``either achieve the operating economies that are long overdue or consider the sale of the bank to another banking institution.''

In the letter, which Davis distributed as a news release, Davis said he was distressed by the company's ``deteriorating financial condition'' and declines in its stock in recent months.

Davis did not disclose his family's stake in First Interstate, but analysts said the position must be less than 5 percent because any investments that size or larger must be reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

First Interstate owns First Interstate Bank of Oklahoma NA of Oklahoma City, successor to the First National Bank and Trust Co. which failed in 1986.

Davis, who has discussed a possible takeover of UAL Corp., parent of United Airlines, did not elaborate on what he might do if the bank did not act on his request.

Bank spokesman Simon Barker-Benfield would not speculate on Davis' intentions. He said that like any shareholder, Davis' concerns are taken seriously.

Barker-Benfield added that the bank's new management has begun to shore up First Interstate's credit problems in Texas and Arizona and has returned the institution to profitability.

Davis' letter was addressed to the top new manager, Chairman and Chief Executive Edward M. …