Magazine article American Banker

Ahmanson CEO Revs Up before Passing the Torch

Magazine article American Banker

Ahmanson CEO Revs Up before Passing the Torch

Article excerpt

IT LOOKS LIKE Richard H. Deihl will be going out with all his guns blazing.

The former fighter pilot plans to retire by yearend as chief executive of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., the nation's largest thrift company. But he is showing no signs yet of easing up.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Deihl turned a lot of heads by selling $1.2 billion of delinquent home loans to a subsidiary of Bear, Stearns & Co.

It was the largest-ever sale of bad home loans and, Mr. Deihl says, it will help free his staff to boost mortgage originations.

Last week, he followed up with a hefty $250 million offering of convertible preferred stock. That fattens the California company's war chest for acquisitions -- and Mr. Deihl makes no secret of his desire to pull off some more deals before he exits.

"I'd like to do that," he said in an interview. "There are some obvious opportunities now, and they've been growing rather significantly in the last few weeks."

Specifically, he is keeping a close eye on two Golden State neighbors. One, Glenfed Inc., faces a key recapitalization deadline Aug. 3 for its struggling Glendale Federal Bank. The other, California Federal Bank, forced out its top two executives on July 26.

"I don't know whether that puts them [California Federal] in play or not, but I was talking with some people about that today," Mr. Deihl said. A California Federal spokesman declined to comment.

Mr. Deihl, who turns 65 in September, expects to step down in late October as chief executive of Ahmanson and its main unit, Home Savings of America. …

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