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August 19, 1986|Bill Ritter

Central's Suitors

At least three companies have submitted formal bids to gobble up San Diego's Central Savings & Loan, industry sources report, but it remains uncertain how long it will take for federal regulators to analyze the bids and decide among the suitors.

"These things don't happen that fast," one regulator said. "It takes time to analyze and evaluate those bids."

Central and four other troubled California thrifts--Bell Savings in San Mateo, Southern California Savings in Beverly Hills, Eureka Savings in San Carlos and Beverly Hills Savings in Mission Viejo--were put up for bid in June at a private meeting hosted by regulators in San Francisco.

All have suffered heavy losses and all have been taken over by regulators in the last 15 months. They've been kept open, however, under the "management consignment program," whereby they're operated by executives from healthy institutions.

Imperial Airlines Still Grounded

Officials of Imperial Airlines, the Carlsbad commuter line that has been grounded and in bankruptcy nearly all year, are readying a new business plan and remain hopeful of eventually resuming operations.

"We're still slugging it out," said Vice President Art Ulloa, the lone remaining executive. A Chapter 11 reorganization plan could be filed within the next month, he said.

The company has only a skeleton inventory--two leased Brazilian Bandierante turboprops. Last year, the firm had 14 Bandierantes and Short Brothers planes.

Beleaguered Businessman May Settle

North County businessman Robert Neral, who vanished in February and quietly returned in late April, is about to sign a stipulated agreement with some of the investors who gave him as much as $2 million.

Sources familiar with the case say a settlement is imminent.

Since his return, Neral has been negotiating a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, who last spring convened a grand jury to investigate the Fallbrook businessman. Neral was the general partner in several real estate limited partnerships. He also owned several small firms and partnerships that managed and owned office buildings.

Earlier this year, Neral was given state approval to operate a cellular telephone network in North County.

Credit Union Cuts Rate--on Current Loans

Call it a bennie of not running a for-profit company: Mission Federal Credit Union management has, on its own, lowered home loan interest rates for 1,100 members--automatically and without requiring customers to complete a pile of paper work.

Six hundred first trust deed loans will be trimmed to 10.25% and 500 seconds will be dropped to 11.25%.

The move will save members time and expense--and it's in keeping with the "credit union movement" philosophy, according to President Hal Stephens.

Had Stephens and his staff been watching the bottom line for profits, the move--believed to be precedent-setting--might not have happened. Mission Federal's loan income this year may drop as much as $300,000 as a result of the automatic loan rate reduction.

"We've had a very good year," said Senior Vice President Richard Hartley, noting that "credit unions don't have to look at profit the way some other companies do. Once we pay our expenses and put away money for reserves, then all we have to do is return money to our members in some fashion."

Any customer who wants to keep the loan rate at the higher level--a distinct possibility given the new tax laws--the credit union will be glad to oblige, Hartley said.

Of course, Mission Federal is not completely altruistic in its motives. Management acknowledged that part of its motive was to make sure that customers, hungry in the market place for refinancing packages, keep their home loans at the credit union.

Dogs Sniff Out Shipyard Drugs

National Steel & Shipbuilding's 2-month-old campaign using drug-sniffing dogs to prowl the shipyard has yielded two finds in the last two weeks. Both times, small amounts of what authorities believe was cocaine were found hidden under a large piece of steel.

The owners of the drugs haven't stepped forward to claim their possessions, which were turned over to San Diego police.

Grapefruit Diet Suit Moved to S.D.

The makers of the Grapefruit 45 diet plan, mired in a multimillion-dollar, 19-month-old controversy with U.S. Postal Service authorities, will have their day in court in San Diego--not Las Vegas, as originally scheduled.

World Communications Inc., the Carlsbad-based marketer of the diet plan, filed a lawsuit against the Postal Service late last year, charging it with conspiracy, misconduct and abuse of authority for holding nearly $4 million worth of Grapefruit 45 mail orders. Authorities contend that the nationally televised ads for the diet plan were misleading.

The legal tug-of-war promises to last a few more months.

Lending a Hand to Charity

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