Magazine article American Banker

B of A Hits Its Stride as Low-Profile Exec Prepares for Top Job

Magazine article American Banker

B of A Hits Its Stride as Low-Profile Exec Prepares for Top Job

Article excerpt

David A. Coulter's anointment in August as the next chief executive of BankAmerica Corp. may go down as one of the most surprising in modern banking.

Though well regarded as a vice chairman, Mr. Coulter was chief of wholesale banking, which is not considered the forte of BankAmerica or its soon-to-retire chairman, Richard M. Rosenberg. The 48-year-old Mr. Coulter had little visibility outside the institution and was on nobody's list of likely successors.

The favorite was Lewis W. Coleman, who until his recent departure was vice chairman and chief financial officer. Another rumored candidate was former chief financial officer Frank Newman, now moving into the top job at Bankers Trust New York Corp. after a stint at the Treasury Department.

The real reasons for Mr. Coulter's selection are known only within the San Francisco company's inner circle of directors and top executives. For a while, the mystery behind the promotion seemed to fuel speculation that turmoil was brewing in the management ranks.

Some changes did follow. Mr. Coleman took a senior position at Montgomery Securities in San Francisco. Mr. Coulter put his own men into key positions overseeing retail, wholesale, and finance units.

But, significantly, the gossip about high-level disarray has given way to a widely expressed confidence in Mr. Coulter and his plans for the second-biggest U.S. banking company.

"When David Coulter takes over as CEO at the end of the current year, we expect (BankAmerica) to pay increasing attention to its bottom line," Raphael Soifer, an analyst with Brown Brothers Harriman Inc. …

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