Three high-ranking technology executives at Shawmut Bank Corp.'s Boston and Hartford headquarters have unexpectedly resigned in the last two months.

A spokesman for the $31 billion-asset institution said the resignations are unrelated and not part of any purge or a general exodus in the bank's technology area.

Nevertheless, observers believe that rumors of Shawmut's being on the block played at least a partial role in the moves.

The three executives are: Nancy Shaw, vice president of strategic business; Joseph Smoolca, vice president of information services; and Jim Lucas, senior vice president of information services.

Ms. Shaw and Mr. Smoolca have already left the bank; Mr. Lucas plans to do so by the end of the month.

Lending credibility to the bank's contention that the departures are merely coincidental, the executives gave differing reasons for leaving.

Ms. Shaw, who, among other projects, helped the bank to install an automated trading system, said her resignation had sprung from a desire to start her own business.

"I realized that it makes more sense to be on my own and that working as a member of a corporate management structure was not for me," she said.

"There are too many obstacles to doing business the right way for me in a corporate environment. By being on my own, I can work without the bureaucracy."

Ms. Shaw has started a Boston-based management consulting company called the Townsend Group.

"The role of the firm is to help organizations define their strategic business and implement the technology needed to get the job done," she said. "Unlike other consulting firms who just provide a plan, we will provide services from start to finish."

Mr. Smoolca has gone to work at ITT/Hartford as head of strategic architecture for its investment services division. He declined to comment on the reasons for his departure.

Mr. Lucas has taken a position at Banc One Corp., handling technology in the fund-management operation. He will start next month.

"I love derivatives and this opportunity is really exciting and more challenging than my current position," he said. "Shawmut has treated me well, and it is a good company, but this opportunity is one that I cannot pass up."

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