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January 15, 1988|James S. Granelli, Times Staff Writer

Shareholders of Far West Financial, the holding company for Far West Savings & Loan in Newport Beach, apparently would rather keep their stock than sell it back to the company.

Far West, which invited shareholders to participate in an unusual "Dutch auction" tender offer, fell short of its goal to buy back 700,000 shares by the time the offer expired last week, Charles H. Green, Far West's principal financial officer, said Wednesday.

The company bought 414,091 shares for $10.50 a share, or a total of nearly $4.35 million, Green said.

The company made the offer to shore up investor confidence and to acquire its own stock at what it considered a bargain price following the October stock market crash.

The offer replaced the company's earlier effort to buy 1 million shares of its 8.3 million shares outstanding in open market purchases. That buyback program brought in about 129,000 shares at various prices, although Green said he did not know the total amount paid.

Under the Dutch auction offer, Far West stated its intention to buy back stock at prices within a range of $6 to $10.50 a share. After the Oct. 19 stock market debacle, the company's stock plunged to a 12-month low of $6.75 a share.

Shareholders were invited to offer shares for sale and to specify the price at which they would be willing to sell. Under the terms of the offer, the company calculated the price it could pay to all shareholders who had offered to sell shares at that price or less. The price turned out to be the maximum price of $10.50 a share.

Far West stock closed Thursday at $10.125 a share, unchanged from Tuesday's close.

The company will retire the shares it purchases. The largest shareholders, with 53.2% of the stock before the tender offer, are the Belzberg brothers--William, Hyman and Samuel--of Canada.

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