BALTIMORE -- Officials of a Baltimore savings and loan reported heavy business activity Saturday, some of it withdrawals, after disclosure of year-end losses of $120 million, the retirement of its chairman and the restructuring of the 103-year-old firm.
But they said the increased activity did not constitute a "run" on the Baltimore Federal Financial thrift.
Dennis Finnegan, BFF spokesman, said about half of the thrift's 31 branches are open on Saturdays and that business was heavier than usual at the city's largest thrift. "We certainly experienced more than normal activity, needless to say," he said. "The customers have been wonderful. It really hurts them to come to Baltimore Federal with anything other than good feelings."
The Baltimore Sun quoted a 31-year-old depositor who rushed to withdraw his money as saying "In life, after you've been burned one time, you learn." The depositor said he lost access to $7,000 in financially troubled Old Court Savings and Loan when the state froze those funds in 1985.
Finnegan said he understood depositors' confusion and concern over the thrift's recent announcement, adding that "in Maryland, we're in a strange pocket of the world" because of the 1985 statewide thrift crisis.
But he assured the thrift's 150,000 depositors their deposits are not at risk as a result of the restructuring.
BFF asked the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. for help in finding a buyer for the savings and loan. The FSLIC continued to cover up to $100,000 in deposits, as provided by law.
Rebecca Vail, a Federal Home Loan spokeswoman, said the government also has agreed to help BFF find new capital, but she emphasized the institution is able to function on its own in the meantime.
The $120 million reported year-end loss includes a one-time $100 million loss that was recorded on the books for 1987 but had accummulated over a period of time, according to Vail.
In addition, Robert Hecht retired as chairman and chief executive officer of the savings and loan, a position he had held since 1975. He was replaced by interim chairman Archibald MacKay.
The thrift had $1.7 billion in assets in 1987. Last year, the Florida-based Home Shopping Network Inc. announced plans to buy BFF for $40 million but the deal collapsed.