Great Western Financial Corp., parent of the nation's second-largest savings and loan, signaled its executive succession plans Tuesday by naming John F. Maher chief executive, effective at year end.
Maher, 51, a former investment banker, has been president and chief operating officer since 1986.
James F. Montgomery, 60, current chairman and chief executive, will retain the chairman's post. Montgomery said in a statement that he plans to spend most of his time on national policy issues affecting the thrift industry, while Maher takes over primary responsibility for Great Western's business strategies.
The announcement came during the company's annual meeting at its Chatsworth headquarters, a gathering that was picketed by a group of elderly depositors who claim that Great Western hoodwinked them into money-losing mutual fund investments.
Some of the pickets are plaintiffs in lawsuits alleging that Great Western employees misled them into thinking that their investments in U.S. government bond funds were federally insured, as are bank deposits. Some protesters said they lost thousands of dollars in last year's weak bond market.
Great Western denies any deception, and company officials say the investors signed forms acknowledging that they knew the funds were not federally insured and that their principal investment could shrink.