Friendship Savings & Loan Inc., which faced the prospect of $1 million in losses in 1980, has been sold to a group of area real estate developers.
The transaction is the second recent sale of a troubled S&L backed by Maryland's chartered insurance corporation. Just last week, an ailing Baltimore S&L, Security Savings & Loan, was sold to Sharon Savings & Loan after borrowing about $17 million from the Maryland Savings Share Insurance Corp. to prevent a possible insolvency.
The purchase of Chevy Chase-based Friendship -- which reported assets of about $41 million and deposits of $31.5 million as of the end of last year -- also has resulted in the removal of the institution's chairman, William N. Demas, and the selection of a new board of directors.
The three purchasers of the S&L's stock are E. Mitchell Fry, 35, a former president of First Maryland S&L who is now engaged in real estate; Anthony C. Koones, head of Anthony C. Koones & Associates; and John H. Pettit, president of Petti & Griffin, a Maryland builder. The three bought Friendship's stock for $700,000 and have pledged to put $1.4 million of new capital into the S&L.
Fry said yesterday that he will become the S&L's new chief executive while the other partners join the institution's board. He also said Friendship hopes to sell $10 million of low-yielding loans. That sale, combined with other moves, is designed to give the S&L $10 million in cash within the year.
"This is not a donneybrook," Fry said, referring to the management change. "This board will take a more active sort of role in the local real estate community. These guys (the current board) weren't as active."
"Friendship has been caught in the same problems as all S&Ls," Fry added. "But this can be a very profitable interest and a real factor in the industry. We have an in-depth knowledge of real estate and mortgage lending."
Friendship S&L operates three offices, and "sooner or later" more will be added, Fry said. In addition, Friendship will join other state-chartered S&Ls in the Maryland suburbs and raise its passbook interest rate to 7 percent.
Although the recent increases in the passbook rate have helped stem the flow of savings from Maryland-chartered S&Ls to other investment forms, the industry in the state and elsewhere is facing difficult times.
"Business is obviously not what it was," said Charles Kresslein, president of the Maryland Saving & Loan League. "But there is no threat to the financial stability of the industry."
Savings and loan associations have been losing funds at record levels to other savings plans, most notably money market mutual funds. In addition, they have had to pay more to borrow money themselves and in effect are caught in a squeeze between rising interest they must pay to attract savings and resulting higher home mortgage rates.
Just yesterday, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which regulates federally chartered S&Ls, reported that the industry's net return on assets dropped 0.04 percent during the second half of last year. The associations also showed a record increase of 0.48 percent in the average rate they pay for funds.
Therefore, S&Ls have been losing deposits faster than they have been gaining new savings dollars.
Yet, the state-chartered institutions, face a different situation than those backed by the federally supported Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corp. The state-chartered institutions are freed from federal limits on S&L passbook interest rates.
But on the other hand, the MSSIC doesn't have the federal government behind it, raising a question of the possible consequences of several S&L failures in Maryland.
"We (the MSSIC) can't have "reserves equal to) the total of all the assets of . . . our members in the fund," said Dennis Berlin, a member of the MSSIC who will become its chairman in April. "But we also have the internal liquidity of each member."
The MSSIC is backed by an insurance fund made up of 2 percent of the deposits of each of the corporation's 135 members, a total of $44 million. In addition, the MSSIC maintains a liquidity fund of about $20 million.
H. H. McFarlin, president of John Hanson Savings & Loan, a major institution in the Maryland suburbs and a state-chartered S&L, insists that the MSSIC program is a sound one. McFarlin said he would pull out of the corporation if it weren't.
"We have just a little more freedom in MSSIC," McFarlin said.
Friendship reported a loss of $136,000 for 1979, disclosing net outflows for eight months of that year. The S&L's buyers said that a study they prepared with the accounting firm of, Arthur Anderson & Co. showed that under previous management Friendship would have shown an operating loss of $1 million for 1980.
Friendship also has borrowed heavily, according to records filed with the state: about $2.25 million from National Bank of Washington, $1 million from Riggs National Bank and $1.6 million from the investment firm of Alex Brown & Sons.