Federal regulators moved in on two more insolvent Utah savings and loans Friday to stabilize losses until Congress can come up with financing to salvage ailing savings institutions nationwide.
American Savings and Loan Association and MountainWest Savings and Loan have been placed under the joint regulatory oversight program, where an examiner from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will oversee daily operations of each institution.The two Utah institutions were among 25 in 14 states nationwide that were put into the program Friday. In all, 35 of the 224 insolvent savings and loans across the country now are under the control of the FDIC, which insures deposits of the nation's commercial banks.
Officials stressed that depositors are insured by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. up to $100,000 per account.
"The two institutions will maintain normal business operations," Mary Grace Helsper, spokeswoman for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, said.
The move Friday, which was expected, adds two additional Utah institutions to the two placed under the joint oversight program last week, officials said. A week ago, regulators took over operations of Deseret Federal Savings and Loan and Sandia Federal Savings and Loan, based in Albuquerque, with offices in Utah.
The joint oversight program, announced earlier this month by President Bush, involves bank and savings and loan regulators taking over operations of sick savings institutions. Helsper said the appointed managing agents will ensure assets and services will not deteriorate and look into institution problems while Congress works out funding to resolve the institutions' problems.
Options requiring federal funding include an assisted acquisition of each institution separately, merging insolvent institutions together before selling them, or liquidation.
American Savings was founded in Salt Lake in 1923, and its stock was publicly traded until millionaire shipping magnate Daniel K. Ludwig acquired a majority of the company in the late 1970s.
American Savings' $257 billion in assets include two slow-moving condominium projects in Salt Lake City, American Towers and Governor's Plaza. Other soured investments, along with expanded growth into Oregon when that state's economy was slow, contributed to the institution's problems, President Alan Blodgett said.
Although American Savings recorded a net worth of -$28 million for 1988, it has pared down its foreclosed real estate portfolio from a peak $156 million in November 1986 to $70.3 million at the close of last year.
"We've been getting a lot of things cleaned up," Blodgett said.
The company posted earnings of $4.2 million for 1988, compared to a $44 million loss the year before, because of the sale of its branch network in Hawaii. American also owns Willamette Savings, with 45 branches in Oregon.
MountainWest Savings, headquartered in Ogden with 10 offices in Utah, is owned by bankrupt WINN Enterprises, based in California. MountainWest, with a 1988 net worth of -$32 million, has been operating under a receivership controlled by the FHLB since last September.
Founded in 1922, MountainWest's problems stemmed from an abundance of non-performing commercial real estate loans and the financial problems of its parent company.