SAN DIEGO — The government Friday officially declared Great Western Bank the winner of a sealed-bid auction for the bulk of failed Homefed Bank's Southern California branches.
Chatsworth-based Great Western bought 119 of 136 Homefed branches on the auction block, along with $4.1 billion in deposits, paying $151.2 million. Nearly half the branches are in San Diego County, with the rest spread across Southern California.
Great Western immediately moved to consolidate operations, closing 13 of the newly acquired branches--all but two of them in San Diego County--and transferring accounts to nearby offices.
About 120 branch employees were laid off and up to 650 administrative employees at Homefed stand to lose their jobs over the next few months, a spokesman said.
Another 15 Homefed branches put up for bid were acquired by Home Savings of America, First Interstate Bank and First Federal Bank of Santa Monica. Homefed branches in Julian and Ridgecrest are being closed.
At its seizure by regulators in July, 1992, Homefed Bank was the second-largest savings and loan ever to fail. The cleanup, which so far has cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $1.3 billion, generated much controversy because of alleged overbilling by accounting and consulting firms.
All former Homefed branches, except those being closed, will reopen Monday. Customers needing information on their accounts can call (800) 356-4136.