The president and chief executive officer of North Valley Bancorp resigned this month after disagreeing with directors on the Redding, Calif., company's strategic direction.

Martin R. Sorensen joined $280 million-asset North Valley in February, succeeding longtime CEO Donald V. Carter, who had died in mid-1997.

Chairman Rudolph V. Balma said the departure was "amicable." He refused to discuss specifics but said Mr. Sorensen's style was better suited for a larger operation.

"Martin is a visionary, but we are a rural bank in working man's country," Mr. Balma said. "We operate branches in towns that aren't even incorporated."

Mr. Sorensen, 54, could not be reached for comment.

Before coming to North Valley he headed a number of other Northern California community banks.

From from May 1994 to May 1997 he was president and CEO of SierraWest Bancorp in Truckee. Earlier he was CEO of John Muir National Bank in Martinez, which Westamerica Bancorp of San Rafael bought in 1991; and Codding Bank of Rohnert Park, which Redwood Empire Bancorp of Santa Rosa bought in 1994.

North Valley Bancorp is the parent of 25-year-old North Valley Bank, which has 12 branches in Shasta and Trinity counties.

The bank, the oldest independent operating around Redding, is mostly a retail institution but had expanded its business banking under Mr. Sorensen.

Mr. Balma said the board has appointed a search committee to land a new CEO. The process is expected to take up to 90 days; meanwhile, four senior- level executives are handling day-to-day operations.

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