Magazine article American Banker

Chemical-Hanover Merger to Put Solow in Tight Spot

Magazine article American Banker

Chemical-Hanover Merger to Put Solow in Tight Spot

Article excerpt

Chemical-Hanover Merger To Put Solow in Tight Spot

Not known for inspiring the affection of his troops at Manufacturers Hanover Corp., Mark Solow nevertheless is respected as shrewd banker -- and a survivor.

Insiders say the pending merger of Hanover and Chemical Banking Corp. has placed the 43-year-old executive in a situation rife with intrigue, requiring deft maneuvering.

For now, Mr. Solow has secured a spot on the merged bank's 13-member management committee, responsible for corporate and merchant banking and corporate finance.

But his new boss -- and all but one of his designated chief lieutenants -- hail from Chemical.

"It's not the way you want to be positioned," one Hanover insider observed dryly.

Mr. Solow declined to comment on the situation.

Ironically, the selection of the Chemical executives was Mr. Solow's own doing. He really had little choice, though, because they were clearly more experienced in their respective positions than their counterparts at Hanover.

"Mark was almost boxed in to making those selections," a Hanover executive acknowledged.

As a result, Mr. Solow is viewed in some quarters as the odd man out. But others counter that it would be a mistake to underestimate his staying power.

In any event, insiders say, partisan lines are already beginning to be drawn. "The gloves are definitely coming off," says one of the banks' executives who, like others, did not want to be identified.

The Chemical executives who will report to Mr. Solow currently report to William Harrison, a Chemical vice chairman who will be Mr. Solow's boss after the merger. Insiders say at least some of the Chemical bankers are miffed at the prospect of reporting to Mr. Solow, and view him as an unnecessary layer of management.

Adding to Mr. Solow's perceived vulnerability is the fact that his managerial capabilities are largely untested. …

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