A Texas savings and loan wants to expand its presence in Utah by acquiring three insolvent Utah-based institutions.

AmeriCity Federal Savings Bank, Dallas, is considering submitting a bid for American Savings, Deseret Federal Savings and MountainWest Savings. The three failed S&Ls are operating under the federal government's joint regulatory oversight program."There are two ways to expand in Utah, you either buy or you build. We are looking at buying right now if it is financially feasible," AmeriCity chairman and chief executive officer Bernie Schuchman told the Deseret News.

The 4-year-old Texas institution opened an office in Salt Lake City last year at 257 E. 200 South. The branch holds $8 million in deposits.

AmeriCity is one of 15 Texas thrifts allowed by regulators to bail out sick institutions in the southwest region of the country. Last November, AmeriCity acquired Tesoror Savings and Loan Association in Laredo under the Federal Home Loan Bank Board's Southwest Plan, expanding AmeriCity's assets from $94 million to more than $459 million.

Schuchman said it was preparing a bid for Deseret Federal when President Bush announced earlier this month the administration's plan to put all insolvent institutions under the control of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures commercial bank deposits.

The FDIC, working with S&L regulators, has taken control of Deseret Federal, American Savings and MoutainWest Savings. An agency spokeswoman said it is examining the institutions' books and problems and will recommend a solution after Congress legislates financing for the nationwide bailout of insolvent S&Ls. Congress is expected to act this year.

Schuchman explained that his company will consider acquiring all three depending on what kind of offer FDIC officials can make. In the purchase of Tesoror, regulators guaranteed the assets against loss, he said.

Regulators have said marketing all three insolvent Utah S&Ls as one package is an option that will be considered.

Acquisition of the three Utah thrifts could give AmeriCity a more than a $1 billion presence in the state and more than 20 branches. American Savings also owns Willamette Savings in Oregon.

Schuchman said AmeriCity initially entered Utah to diversify its deposit base, which stood at $447 million at year end 1988. The savings bank had an annualized net income of $2.9 million, and net worth of $12.2 million as of Dec. 31.