WASHINGTON - In a surprise move, Joe L. Allbritton, chairman and chief executive of Riggs National Corp., was named president of the company's main subsidiary.

Mr. Allbritton replaced Ray M. Williams, who was named president of Riggs National Bank of Washington just five months ago.

Mr. Williams became a senior executive officer of the bank. Most recently he was an executive vice president of California Federal Bank in Los Angeles.

The $5.5 billion-asset company said the move was made to "ensure consistent leadership in its ongoing program to improve asset quality."

Riggs has been hampered by bad real estate loans in Washington and Britain.

Total nonperforming assets and past-due loans were $285.2 million in the quarter down from $398.2 million a year ago. Riggs earned $507,000 in the second quarter, compared with a $6.5 million loss a year ago.

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