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Southwest Bancorp's Profits Rise 15%; FDIC Lifts Order

April 09, 1985|BILL RITTER | San Diego County Business Editor

VISTA — Southwest Bancorp on Monday reported a 15% increase in net income for the first quarter ended March 31, continuing the profitable course set last year after three consecutive years of red ink.

Net income rose to $346,000, or 8 cents per share, compared to a net income of $301,000, or 8 cents per share, in the previous year.

Total assets as of March 31 rose slightly from Dec. 31, 1984, to $295.7 million. Deposits increased slightly from the previous year to $253 million, and total loans jumped 3% to $196.8 million.

The announcement follows Southwest's annual meeting last Friday, at which officials said that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s cease and desist order had been lifted--evidence, they said, of the company's return to financial health.

The order, issued in March, 1984, included charges relating to Southwest's problem loans, which sparked the string of losses at the Vista-based parent of Southwest Bank, SW Mortgage and Southwest Thrift & Loan Assn. Regulators ordered the company to reduce delinquent loans, replenish capital and start generating profits again.

The problems, officials believe, are over.

The increase in first-quarter net income "demonstrates the underlying strength of Southwest Bancorp," said chief executive officer Sidney Fox.

Fox stepped aside as president of Southwest Bank on Monday, making room for the promotion of Frank J. Mercardante, who most recently was executive vice president. Mercardante, 37, joined the bank in 1972 and established its centralized data processing department.

At Southwest's annual meeting, two directors were elected to the board who represent Southwest's preferred shareholders. Those investors have not been paid a dividend in the last 10 quarters, and were eligible to elect their own representatives directly to the board.

Selected were Rodger A. Graef, owner of Graef Insurance Agency, and Howard B. Levenson, chairman of Western Financial and president of Fortuna Financial.

Earlier this year, Southwest, hoping to stem the accumulating preferred dividends, encouraged its 303 preferred shareholders to swap seven shares of common stock for each share of preferred. Only about one-third of the shareholders tendered their stock.

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