BankAmerica Finance Chief Resigns Post; Personal Reasons Cited in Poelker's Decision

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BankAmerica Finance Chief Resigns Post

Personal Reasons Cited In Poelker's Decision

John S. Poelker resigned Monday as BankAmerica Corp.'s chief financial officer and treasurer after only five months on the job.

No successor was announced.

"It was my own personal decision,' Mr. Poelker, 43, said in a telephone interview. "It was the kind of job that was demanding 24-hour attention. With young children, I just basically concluded that I wasn't willing to pay that price, as much as I hated the decision.'

Mr. Poelker said his quitting was the "only factor' in last week's cancellation by bank officials of scheduled meetings with security analysts in New York City. At the time, BankAmerica officials cited the "press of business,' according to published reports.

The sudden resignation "raises as many questions as it answers,' one analyst said Monday. Most of those questions seemed to revolve around what Mr. Poelker found at BankAmerica when he got there, and what has happened since then.

"He's an intelligent man, not a naive one. You've got to believe he knew what he was getting into,' said one analyst who declined to be identified. "I just wonder what could have happened in six months which made him decide to leave.'

The cancellation of the meetings triggered speculation that a management change or other major development was imminent.

"Tom Cooper and Sam [Armacost] concluded that it would be difficult to be in New York and talk about things happening with the bank, and have this occur three or four days later,' Mr. Poelker said. "The bank would be better served in being square and honest . . . and not be in the position of being involved in a charade in New York last week.'

BankAmerica stock fell to 12 5/8 by Monday afternoon from its 13 3/8 closing price on Friday in heavy trading. Other large California banks, such as Security Pacific Corp. and First Interstate Bancorp, showed gains for the day.

Mr. Poelker was to have attended the meetings with Mr. Cooper, who is president and chief operating officer of the company's Bank of America unit. Mr. Armacost is president and chief executive officer of the holding company, which reported losses of $577 million in the six months ended June 30 and $337 million in all of 1985.

Mr. Poelker said he "underestimated the amount of commitment and work that this job was going to involve' when he accepted it last March. "Twelve to 14-hour days are not out of the ordinary. And, depending on what's going on, weekends and overnight trips to New York.

"This job, in particular,' he added, "requires somebody who can really devote literally all of his attention to it, like any senior executive job in a company this big. But there's another part of my life,' he said, referring to his family.

Last March, Mr. Poelker succeeded BankAmerica chairman Leland S. Prussia as chief financial officer; treasurer was a new position. Mr. Poelker, who reported to Mr. Armacost, managed the financial accounting, financial analysis and planning, treasury, and bank tax departments.

Mr. Poelker said he had been thinking of quitting in the last three or four weeks, instead of the "several months' as the company had quoted him as saying in a prepared statement. He said the decision was precipitated by the fact that his family--wife Janet, and children, Kate, 16, John, 12, and Mark, 8, had been scheduled to move this week to San Francisco from the Atlanta area. Before joining BankAmerica in March, Mr. Poelker was president and chief financial officer of Citizens and Southern Georgia Corp., Atlanta.

Mr. Poelker, who said he expects to remain at BankAmerica for another three or four weeks, said his children already had enrolled in Bay Area schools and he had purchased a house in Atherton, Calif. …