Mellon Bank Corp. of Pennsylvania, which could receive $120 million from the State of Maryland if it takes over most deposits at the crippled Community Savings and Loan Association, has asked for an additional $60 million to cushion it against possible future losses in the thrift's portfolio of assets, according to sources.
Mellon's request for additional money is a main sticking point in talks that will decide the fate of Community, a Bethesda-based institution that has been under state control since September, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations between the state and the giant Pittsburgh-based bank holding company.
Gov. Harry Hughes indicated at his weekly news conference today that if Mellon does not acquire Community soon, his administration would almost certainly place the savings and loan in receivership. That action would probably delay the full release of Community's $332 million in deposits for years.
" . . . It may be that the economics of the Mellon deal aren't right," said Hughes. "I think that probably says the alternative is liquidation."
The Hughes administration is prepared to spend $120 million to sell the debt-ridden Community. On top of that, Mellon is asking the state to set aside $35 million in government bonds and another $25 million in the form of redeemed net-worth certificates, special government-issued notes.
The additional $60 million, if it remains part of any transaction between Hughes and Mellon, would be vulnerable to attack by legislative leaders who already are complaining about other high costs associated with Community's proposed sale.
"Mellon wants to take all our cash, while we take all their risk and are stuck with the carcass of Community," said Del. Robert R. Neall (R-Anne Arundel), the minority leader of the House of Delegates.
Robert H. Winter, an attorney for the Maryland Deposit Insurance Fund, which controls Community, said there would be "a very small risk" that Mellon would need all $60 million to cover debts at Community.
Under the terms of the proposed transaction, "we are transferring [to Mellon] assets whose value can be questioned," said Winter. He said the additional funds represent "assurances that the state would stand behind the assets."
House Speaker Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Baltimore) characterized the negotiations on the $60 million as "fluid" and "negotiable."
Hughes sounded a similar theme, saying, "There isn't any arrangement as of this point."
In a related development, Hughes said he was "still upbeat" about the proposed sale of First Maryland Savings and Loan of Silver Spring, another thrift that failed in last year's savings and loan crisis. Hughes said federal objections to "management things," which he did not identify, are still blocking the sale of First Maryland.
Administration officials have been negotiating the sale of First Maryland to Yorkridge-Calvert Savings and Loan of Baltimore, and have estimated the cost of that sale to be between $30 million and $40 million.