Ford Puts Bruised Bank On Block

After years of financial agita, Ford Motor is fed up with losses at First Nationwide Financial and is trying to sell the nation's No.6 savings and loan, Wall Street sources say. Back in 1985, when Ford bought the San Francisco-based S&L for $493 million, it looked like a winner. But bad real estate loans and an overaggressive cross-country expansion racked up $196 million in red ink since 1991. Ford won't comment on a possible sale.

Now is a good time to sell: Financial services are hot. First Nationwide, which has shrunk from 14 states to 8 in the past three years, may be sold in chunks. Industry leader H.F. Ahmanson has been approached by Ford, sources say. One lingering woe for Ford: To entice buyers, it may have to keep much of the thrift's $1 billion in bad assets.