Magazine article American Banker

First Chicago Lifts Retail Chief Mullin to No. 2 Post

Magazine article American Banker

First Chicago Lifts Retail Chief Mullin to No. 2 Post

Article excerpt

CHICAGO - First Chicago Corp. on Monday promoted Leo F. Mullin to the company's No. 2 post, putting him in line to succeed Richard L. Thomas as chairman and chief executive.

The announcement apparently decides a horse race among four top executives and addresses concerns on Wall Street about who would take the reins when Mr. Thomas, now 62, retires in April 1996.

"If everything proceeds successfully, one would have to conclude that Leo would be in a very strong position" to become First Chicago's top officer, said Mr. Thomas in an interview.

First Chicago, the nation's 10th-largest bank company, also promoted David J. Vitale, a 25-year veteran, to the new post of vice chairman. Mr. Vitale, 47, will continue to head corporate and institutional banking.

Sending a Message

Mr. Mullin, 50, was named president, succeeding Mr. Thomas. He was also named to the vacant post of chief operating officer.

His anointment sends a message about the strategic direction of First Chicago, said Art Soter, a banking analyst with Morgan Stanley.

Mr. Mullin presides over credit cards, middle market and metropolitan retail banking operations. Those segments apparently have greater potential than First Chicago's sophisticated yet volatile corporate banking unit, said Mr. Soter.

Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Thomas emphasized that First Chicago's corporate banking unit had been overhauled and would get a continued supply of capital for product development. He said no one line of business would get a preference.

|Good Deal of Concern'

The appointments will help minimize the divisiveness that often surrounds succession contests, said another analyst, who asked not to be identified.

Four candidates had been vying to succeed Mr. Thomas, and "there was a good deal of concern in the market about internal politics at First Chicago," the analyst said. …

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