Fort Worth-based OmniAmerican Bank said Wednesday that it will lay off 24 workers as it stops making auto loans through car dealers — a sizable share of its loan portfolio.The layoffs amount to nearly 8 percent of the community bank’s 307 employees.OmniAmerican also said in a regulatory filing that it eliminated the post of chief operating officer “in connection with organizational changes aimed at reducing costs and improving earnings.” As a result, Terry M. Almon is leaving the company.OmniAmerican said the moves will produce an $800,000 charge for severance expenses when it reports its earnings for this quarter.CEO Tim Carter said OmniAmerican holds about $250 million worth of indirect auto loans, which are originated through car dealers and acquired by the lender. That’s about 30 percent of its total loans.“The business has become very competitive in a low-rate environment. In terms of returns, they’re not there,” Carter said. That loan portfolio will pay down over 30 to 36 months, he said, and the bank will seek to replace those with mortgages and business loans.“I would say we’re a very good competitor” in those markets, Carter said.OmniAmerican will continue to make auto loans directly to consumers, he said, because that fits its strategy of building relationships with borrowers and offering them different financial products.Carter said that Almon did “a very good job helping us” grow after the company went public three years ago but that much of the bank’s needed infrastructure is now in place.Carter declined to comment on a report from Bloomberg News last month, citing unnamed sources, that OmniAmerican was exploring a sale.OmniAmerican Bancorp, the bank’s publicly traded parent, is one of the largest financial institutions based in Tarrant County, with $1.32 billion in total assets. As of June 30, it reported net loans of $801 million, up 8 percent from the start of the year.OmniAmerican earned $2.6 million in the year’s first six months, up 16 percent from the same period a year ago.
Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 Twitter: @jimfuquay