Magazine article American Banker

Ailing Guardian Hires Ex-Director as CEO

Magazine article American Banker

Ailing Guardian Hires Ex-Director as CEO

Article excerpt

Seeking to reassure investors that its turnaround is on track, Guardian Bancorp hired a new chief executive and said its ambitious program to jettison nonperformers is progressing.

Analysts, meanwhile, speculated that Guardian, one of the largest community banks in Los Angeles and a glaring example of the troubles faced by independent banks in that region, is for sale.

James F. Lewin, a Security Pacific Bank veteran, was hired as chief executive of Guardian Bancorp, the $473 million-asset holding company for Guardian Bank.

Mr. Lewin had resigned from the holding company's board just two weeks before. He was a close associate of Howard Fletcher, who was dumped as chief executive late last month because some board members took exception to his management style.

Mr. Lewin, as a board member brought in by Mr. Fletcher, resigned "in haste," said chairman Paul Harris, who asked Mr. Lewin to come back as CEO.

Michael J. Welch, another board member who resigned at Mr. Fletcher's firing, is also coming back on board.

"We felt that they had left in haste, and we went to them and asked them to come back," said Mr. Harris, who co-founded the bank 10 years ago. "Mr. Lewin has the time and the experience to do the job."

"My immediate tasks with the company are to actively assist in recruiting a president and chief executive officer for Guardian Bank and to explore ways to enhance shareholder value," Mr. Lewin said in a statement. …

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