Under new leadership, CalFed has gotten back to the business of making home loans

Under the leadership of Jerry St. Dennis, chairman, president and chief executive, CalFed is engaged in a two-year-long restructuring program that has largely returned the giant thrift-holding company to its original business of making home loans.

CalFed is parent of California Federal Bank, a savings and loan with more than 200 branches in four states, more than 130 of which are in California.

Since August of 1989, CalFed has sold:

* Aug. 1989: A $125 million credit card portfolio.

* Oct. 1989: Interest in California Communities, a residential builder.

* Oct. 1989: Half ownership in Wilshire Courtyard, the 1-million-square-foot office complex near the Los Angeles County Art Museum.

* Dec. 1989: Ownership of seven commercial real estate properties to a master limited partnership.

* Dec. 1989: The former CalFed headquarters, a 438,000-square-foot tower in the Miracle Mile section of Wilshire.

* Feb. 1990: The Anglo American Insurance Co. Ltd., a London-based property-casualty insurance subsidiary.

* June 1990: A retirement plan business.

CalFed had reduced its workforce to about 4,000 from 6,000 in the last two years.

California Federal was founded in 1926 as the Railway Mutual Building and Loan Association, which served the employees of the Los Angeles Pacific Electric Railway system, the old "Red Cars" that used to provide urban transportation here.

In 1959, California Federal merged with Standard Federal, which traces its roots back to 1925.

California Federal became one of the first financial institutions anywhere to promote itself on television, with an ad campaign beginning in 1948.

The thrift stuck largely to home and real estate lending through the 1970s, although it did acquire an insurance subsidiary in 1975, and formed a real estate development company in 1970.

In the 1980s CalFed began to diversify in earnest, establishing a construction subsidiary in 1979; forming a venture capital firm in 1980; acquiring a trust department in 1982; forming real estate syndication and management arms in 1983; acquiring the Beneficial Standard insurance company in 1984; and acquiring the Anglo American Insurance Co. in 1987.

Under St. Dennis' leadership and direction of the CalFed board of directors, the thrift has largely reversed its 1980s conglomerization efforts, and returned to its knitting.

PHOTO : St. Dennis: Has restructured CalFed

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