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LOS ANGELES-First Federal Bank of California, which was founded the year of the Great Depression in 1929 and went on to not only survive but thrive despite that cataclysm, succumbed Friday to the worst downturn since the Depression when the FDIC seized it and La Jolla-based Imperial Bank. First Federal’s 39 branches reopened Saturday as branches of Pasadena-based OneWest Bank, and Imperial’s nine branches were taken over by Los Angeles-based City National Bank. According to the FDIC, all shares of First Federal were owned by its holding company, FirstFed Financial Corp., which was not included in the closing of the bank or the resulting receivership.

First Federal, which was based for many years at its flagship branch in Santa Monica but moved its headquarters across the street from the Playa Vista development in 2008, had been reporting losses for some time since the downturn began. In its latest quarterly financial report, for the period ending Sept. 30, First Federal reported a net loss of $46 million and $3.36 per diluted share compared with a net loss of $51.6 million during the third quarter of 2008. The loss for the third quarter of this year “was due primarily to a $70 million provision for loan losses relating to the bank’s single-family loan portfolio,” First Federal said at the time.

First Federal officials underscored the bank’s troubles in a letter to shareholders that accompanied the bank’s 2008 annual report. In it, First Federal execs pointed out that the bank was operating under a cease-and-desist order from the Office of Thrift Supervision and said that, “Adjectives like harrowing and unbelievable come to mind when we look at the havoc that enveloped our industry this past year.” The letter was signed by chairman and CEO Babette E. Heimbuch along with president and chief operating officer James P. Giraldin. Heimbuch resigned as chairman of the bank and its parent company effective Dec. 9 and will retire as CEO effective Dec. 31, according to a statement the bank issued on Dec. 11. She has been succeeded aschairman by Brian Argrett, an independent director since 2006, and will be succeeded as CEO by Giraldin.

The takeovers of First Federal and Imperial follow the October failures of Los Angeles-based California National Bank and two other California banks owned by privately held FBOP Corp. of Illinois. Those instititutions were acquired by publicly held US Bancorp of Minneapolis, the parent of US Bank.

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