Another senior staff member has flown the coop of the New York City money management firm Keefe Managers, which oversees the largest bank hedge fund.

Head trader Kenneth Shanahan, 30, became the fourth senior staff member to leave Keefe in the last two months. Sources said he quit two weeks ago.

"Mr. Shanahan was courted constantly by other firms," said a source familiar with the situation. "He looked around, saw that other senior management had left, and decided to 'hit the bid" - trader jargon for getting out of a stock.

The source said Mr. Shanahan is now considering job options.

In early February, the firm lost three widely respected market experts: longtime president Matthew F. Byrnes and senior analysts Felice Gelman and Marge Demarrais.

Still on board is Ric Weisgerber, the assistant trader, and part-time advisory board members John J. Lyons and William Kearns, whom Mr. Keefe hired in February.

Mr. Shanahan, who was with the firm eight years, was recruited out of college by the company's chairman, Harry V. Keefe Jr. He was promoted to head trader after senior trader Jonathan Isseson left Keefe in the autumn of 1997.

Some observers said the defections are unlikely to have an impact on Keefe's business. They say investors are with the firm because of the long and successful Wall Street career of its founder, Harry Keefe.

Others are dubious, noting the possibility that the departing managers took their capital out of the portfolio.

According to the company's December portfolio statement, Keefe Managers owned 927,000 shares of Bank of New York, 1,152000 shares in Chase Manhattan Corp. and 583,000 shares in Bank One Corp.

At its peak during the summer, Keefe Managers had $1 billion under management, sources said.

Mr. Keefe, who was also a founder of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, did not return phone calls.

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