Officials representing the state and thrift depositors are mum on negotiations to settle a multimillion-dollar lawsuit between the two parties.

Settlement negotiations were expected to come to a head this week with the state possibly submitting another offer to depositors' legal counsel.But state officials have said they will no longer comment on negotiations until a final settlement is reached, and attorneys for depositors have only said they haven't heard from the state.

Depositors' lawyers had left their offices promptly at 5 p.m. Friday without comment on the settlement.

An organization of depositors is seeking up to $47 million from the state and several hundred other defendants allegedly involved in Utah's privately insured thrift industry, which collapsed in mid-1986, leaving some 15,000 account holders without access to their savings.

The thrifts are in liquidation, and this week depositors of Copper State received a distribution bringing their total reimbursement to 32.5 percent of their money. Depositors of Charter Thrift and Loan also received a distribution bringing their total to 40 percent.

Bangerter is trying to put together a "global settlement" of the depositors class action complaint, with contributions from other defendants and the state's former liability insurance carriers in order to decrease taxpayers' contribution toward a settlement.

The governor was expected to receive this week settlement offers from insurance carriers and other defendants, which include former thrift industry officials, legal counsel and accountants.

Meanwhile, Francine Giani, the governor's press secretary, said Friday that Bangerter has been close to a telephone all week, despite being away from the Capitol.

Bangerter, who passed up a trip to the National Governors' Association meeting in Cincinnati last week because he wanted to stay close to negotiations, has been on campaign trips throughout the state every day but Wednesday.

Monday and Tuesday he was in Washington, Iron and Kane counties. On Thursday he traveled to Panguich, and Friday he spoke in Sun Valley, Idaho, after which he was scheduled to play golf.

Saturday he is scheduled to fly to New Orleans for the Republican convention, which ends Thursday.

When Bangerter decided not to travel to Cincinnati, aides said negotiators are close to a settlement, but they said one could not be reached without the governor.

"He's been available by phone," Giani said of the governor. "He just didn't want to go to Cincinnati. He wanted to stay close so that if things started shaking he could be here within a couple of hours."

Giani said Bangerter has had meetings with Steve Mecham, an aide close to the negotiations.

A settlement will not likely come until after the Republican National Convention next week in New Orleans, officials said Friday.

Giani said she and other Bangerter aides are tired of reporters doing stories that build false hopes of an impending settlement.

"I think the media have built up a stir," she said. "I think to be fair we need to say that work's being done and I wish it was a faster process. We're not going to say one dang thing until this thing is over. Once it's over, we'll keep everyone in the room and call the press within a half hour."

Officials are trying to settle a suit brought by depositors of five thrift institutions that failed in 1986. In the suit, depositors claim state officials were negligent in regulating the thrifts.

If a settlement is reached, Bangerter will likely call the Legislature back for a special session to approve spending state funds. It would be the third special session this summer.