Vice chairman John Griff resigned Tuesday from NationsBanc Capital Markets, whose fixed-income group he helped launch in 1993.

Mr. Griff's departure follows the defection late last week to First Union Corp. of three other NationsBanc high-grade bond executives, market sources said.

The departures reflect NationsBank Corp.'s increasing emphasis on other areas of fixed income, including the more profitable high-yield business, observers speculated.

"NationsBank is like a lot of commercial banks: They are pursuing high yield because that's where the money is," said Sally Pope Davis, a bank analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. The Charlotte, N.C.-based banking company "is absolutely bottom-line oriented."

A NationsBank spokeswoman insisted that Mr. Griff's departure does not signal a change in the company's focus.

"We have a number of clients that are investment grade. We'll continue to provide services to them, so this is not a shift in strategy," she said.

Mr. Griff, who reported to William Maxwell, the president and chairman of NationsBank's securities subsidiary, has not yet lined up another job.

Natwest Markets appointed Patrick J. Finley as senior vice president and director of securities compliance.

Mr. Finley, 45, comes to Natwest after a 13-year tenure at Prudential Securities Inc., where he held a similar positon. He will be responsible for all regulatory and compliance issues for Natwest Securities Corp. and its broker-dealer affiliates.

While at Prudential, Mr. Finley was the principal attorney representing the firm in extensive and lengthy class actions and regulatory investigations from the Securities Exchange Commission, National Association of Securities Dealers, and various state investigations surrounding sales of limited partnerships in the early 1980s.

Since the sale of its U.S. retail banking operations to Fleet Financial Corp. last year, London-based National Westminster Bank PLC has been expanding its New York-based securities activities.

That includes new product lines and businesses, especially equity markets activity that require someone with securities firm experience, said Mr. Finley. - Omri Ben-Amos

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