Albert Casey Called Main Candidate for Top RTC Job

WASHINGTON -- Albert V. Casey, a former postmaster general, head of American Airlines, and chairman of a Texas bank, is the leading candidate for chief executive of the Resolution Trust Corp.

Mr. Casey, 71, is the front-runner among at least three candidates given serious consideration by Bush administration officials, two high-ranking government officials confirmed Tuesday.

Post Has Been Upgraded

A strong-willed executive, Mr. Casey retired from the Postal Service in 1986 and more recently was a business school professor at Southern Methodist University. A call to Mr. Casey's office in Dallas on Tuesday found him traveling and not available for comment.

He would be taking an RTC post that has gained in power under a restructuring sought by the agency's current chairman, L. William Seidman, who will retire next month.

Mr. Casey is best known to the banking industry as the man the government installed at First RepublicBank Corp. while its banks neared failure.

A Tough First Day

On April 12, 1988, his first day as chairman and chief executive officer, First RepublicBank reported a $1.5 billion loss for the January-March quarter. He struggled to engineer a rescue that would keep the company independent, but the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ended up selling the operation to NCNB Corp., Charlotte, N.C.

Boston-born and Harvard-educated, including an MBA, Mr. Casey built his hard-driving reputation as chairman of AMR Corp., the parent of American Airlines. He ran American from 1974 to 1986, retired, then put in 10 months as head of the Postal Service.

Earlier in his career, he held senior positions -- including the presidency -- at the Times-Mirror Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and other publications.

Known for Innovations

Mr. Casey is regarded as an innovative manager who piloted American through the turbulence of airline deregulation. The company consolidated its position among the big three U.S. carriers. He also moved the airline's headquarters to Dallas from New York in 1978.

"Al is certainly a very, very experienced businessman, and I think they are lucky to persuade someone of his caliber" to take the RTC job, said Ronald G. Steinhart, chairman of Team Bank in Fort Worth. "He has tremendous, varied management experience with major organizations where he had to make major decisions in a timely way."

After serving as president of Times-Mirror from 1966 to 1974, he was tapped in 1975 by former New York Gov. Hugh L. Carey to help guide New York City through its financial crisis. His experience in crisis management would come in handy at the RTC, which is charged by Congress with managing and disposing of the assets of failed thrifts.

Too Many Masters

The RTC has been tangled in bureaucracy since its inception in 1989, largely because it is run by an executive director -- currently David Cooke -- who reports to two separate boards. They are the RTC board, which is also the FDIC board; and the RTC Oversight Board, headed by the Treasury secretary.

Under a deal recently devised by retiring FDIC Chairman Seidman and reluctantly agreed to by the Treasury, the RTC will get a CEO who is truly in charge and the FDIC will play a secondary role.

The CEO will also be chairman of the RTC and hold a non-voting seat on the Oversight Board. The FDIC board will continue to serve as the RTC's board, but the RTC board will gain a new member appointed by the Oversight Board.

The FDIC chairman also gets a nonvoting seat on the RTC Oversight Board.

Exercising His Options

Mr. Casey, who has survived four heart attacks, is described as strong-willed and demanding. Before accepting the government's offer to run First RepublicBank, he insisted that its entire board and six ranking officers resign.

He also is described as persuasive, energetic, and entertaining, a man capable of charming a Congress often critical of the RTC.

On hearing that Mr. Casey may become RTC's CEO, a former employee said: "The guy just can't retire."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.