Magazine article American Banker

Great Western's Next Chief Aims to Win over Investors

Magazine article American Banker

Great Western's Next Chief Aims to Win over Investors

Article excerpt

As far as stock analysts are concerned, Great Western Financial Corp.'s John F. Maher is something of a mystery.

Slated to be Great Western's next chief executive, Mr. Maher has worked in senior positions at the Chatsworth, Calif.-based thrift for most of the past 22 years.

Yet stock analysts say they don't know much about him.

"It's difficult to assess his management style since I haven't seen it," said Jonathan E. Gray, a banking analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York.

But the story is likely to be decidedly different from now on.

Mr. Maher, 51, said he plans to become a visible spokesman to investors. He'll need to.

As he takes the reins from James F. Montgomery at yearend, Great Western will lose a high-profile advocate who was closely associated with its successful strategy of becoming more banklike than most thrifts. Mr. Montgomery, 60, was well known in the investment community.

Therefore, it's not surprising that on almost every substantive issue Mr. Maher said he plans to continue down the path laid out by his

predecessor.

"I think the differences are more in style than in substance," said Mr. Maher, who is now Great Western's president, in a recent interview.

Mr. Montgomery said last month that he would give up the CEO's title to spend more time on lobbying Congress and regulators about policy issues.

Mr. Maher said he has been a partner with Mr. Montgomery in developing strategy for Great Western over the past two decades. …

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