Federal thrift regulators are taking away some special accounting sweeteners they gave investors as incentives to buy troubled savings and loans in 1988. The move could hinder the growth plans of at least one major California thrift, American Savings.
Last week's ruling, which comes as regulators are trying to force thrift owners to put more of their own money at risk, is likely to trigger lawsuits by investors angry that the government is reneging on its deals. In addition, the new rules probably will leave some institutions close to insolvency.
The new rules disallow thrifts from counting certain things as part of their capital, which is the financial cushion that thrifts must maintain to protect against losses. Most affected in California by the order is American Savings, the former Financial Corp. of America unit that was bought in December, 1988, by a group led by wealthy Texas investor Robert M. Bass.
A spokesman for the Stockton-based thrift said that about $300 million in capital is wiped out by the new rules, although he added that American will still meet all of the tough new federal standards for capital. He said executives there are concerned about the new order but added that no decision has been made on responding to it.