National permanent Federal Savings and Loan Association regains its status as the Washington area's second-largest savings institution this morning following formal completion over the weekend of a merger with Eastern-Liberty Federal S&L.

The surviving institution, with 20 offices, will have assets of more than $950 million, second to Perpetual-American Federal's assets of about $1.5 billion. Columbia First Federal passed National Permanent in savings deposits earlier this year when it completed a merger of its own, and now ranks a close third in assets.

Later this month, National Permanent will open its 21st office at the Hechinger Mall in Northeast Washington, giving the S&L the same number of branches as Perpetual-American.

John W. Stadtler, who was chairman of National Permanent and will continue in that post with the merged institution, said transition teams that have been working on the consolidation in recent months have identified "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in immediate savings on an annualized basis, as a result of the combination.

While this will make the larger S&L more competitive in the local market, Stadtler said National Permanent probably would continue to operate at a loss this year because of record costs of attracting money. "Under a normal economy, we will show good expense ratios," he added.

Last year, National Permament had a net loss of $331,000 while its weaker merger partner, Eastern-Liberty, had a loss of $2 million. Balanced against such losses, the combined S&L will have reserves and surplus funds in excess of $48 million to weather the interest-rate storms.

With mortgage loans outstanding of more than $866 million, the two S&Ls have served the D.C. area for more than 90 years.

Thomas Harrison, who was chairman of Eastern-Liberty, today becomes a vice chairman of National Permanent. Former Eastern-Liberty directors Vernon Haslup and William Payne also were added to the National Permanent board of directors.

Stadtler said also that for the first time, National Permanent has formed an advisory board consisting of other former Eastern-Liberty directors.