Magazine article American Banker

L.A.'S Guardian Bancorp Aiming for Turnaround

Magazine article American Banker

L.A.'S Guardian Bancorp Aiming for Turnaround

Article excerpt

Howard Fletcher, chief executive of Guardian Bank, one of Los Angeles' largest community banks, has the task of reinventing a real estate bank in one of the worst real estate markets in the country.

Mr. Fletcher is about halfway through what he hopes will be a turnaround for Guardian Bank, which was hammered in 1992 and last year in the residential construction market.

On the job for a year, Mr. Fletcher last month raised some much-needed capital and hopes to go to work in earnest cutting bum assets and costs from the bank.

"We continue to be a real estate bank," said Mr. Fletcher. "We've historically provided interim construction for residential builders. Only, we now intend to build on that, things like increasing our warehousing lines. We're looking closely at single-family mortgage origination. We've always financed builders, so why not finance the takeout as well."

Options Being Considered

For Mr. Flecter, the process he's initiating is one of transforming a bank from a defensive position to an offensive, and he feel's the time is ripe.

"We're able to consider other options now," he said. "We are pursuing aggressively some business strategies related to our traditional business but aimed at diversifying our asset and liability structure."

Guardian, with $711 million in assets and three offices, is able to change its modus operandi because of a $19.7 million capital-raising effort theat closed on Jan. 28. The bank's holding company, Guardian Bancorp, sold 4. …

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