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Three Top Fleet Bank Executives Leave In Management Reorganization

March 17, 1993

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Fleet Financial Group, New England’s biggest banking company, announced a major management shakeup Wednesday designed to position the bank for nationwide expansion.

Streamlining of the nation’s 14th largest banking company prompted the resignations of two vice chairmen and the president of Fleet Credit Corp.

Terrence Murray, Fleet’s chairman, president and chief executive, said the reorganization puts Fleet ″ahead of the curve″ on interstate banking which he said would be in effect by the mid-1990s.

Murray said two vice chairmen, Charles Carey and Robert Mushkin, chose to resign after they were told they no longer would be reporting directly to Murray.

Carey, 51, had been with Fleet for 21 years and oversaw Fleet’s commercial banking and real estate operations. Mushkin, 52, an 18-year Fleet veteran, ran the bank’s New York and New England groups.

Robert Weisberg, president of Fleet Credit, which formerly dealt with leasing and asset-based lending, left because his job and division were eliminated under the new setup, Murray said.

Gerard Cassidy, a banking analyst with Hancock Institutional Equity Services in Portland, Maine, said the resignations may have reflected the bank’s poor performance in some areas during the last couple of years.

″You don’t leave the type of jobs these people left because you’re doing a great job,″ Cassidy said. ″Something went wrong.″

Allegations that Fleet Finance, an Atlanta-based subsidiary that lost $8 million in 1992, practiced shady lending procedures and preyed on poor and minority homeowners were not a factor in the reorganization, Murray said.

Similar complaints against Fleet surfaced in the Boston area in 1991.

Banking analysts said the new setup is an improvement over the previous, more traditional bank management alignment. Fleet’s stock rose 25 cents to close at $37.62 1/2 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

″They’re doing it the right way, especially as the banking industry moves toward consolidation,″ said Cassidy.

Jeffrey Cohn, an analyst with H.C. Wainwright & Co. in Boston, agreed.

″I think what Terry Murray has tried to do is put himself much more in the role of a visionary, which he is very good at,″ Cohn said. ″But a visionary can’t spend all his time in meetings.″

Murray said the moves will leave Fleet ready to pursue new opportunities if and when interstate banking is allowed.

″This is a more offensive-minded organization,″ Murray said. ″Northeastern banks have in the past few years focused on things like non- performing loans, problem real estate. ... That’s behind us.″

″We have $400 million in new capital now and with the economy beginning to turn we wanted to be more focused on more outward-looking programs.″ Fleet named three new directors to its board:

-Robert Higgins, 47, chairman and chief executive officer of Fleet Bank, N.A., in Hartford Conn.

-H. Jay Sarles, 48, president and chief executive of Fleet Banking Group, which owns the former Bank of New England facilities in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

-Michael Zucchini, 46, executive vice president and chief information officer of Fleet Financial Group, responsible for data processing and bank operations.

In addition, Eugene McQuade was appointed an executive vice president and will succeed John Flynn as the corporation’s chief financial officer when Flynn retires on June 30.

Fleet Financial Group is a $47 billion financial services company with about 1,200 offices and 27,000 employees nationwide.

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