Adams Cohen Inc., a Great Neck, N.Y., investment banking firm, has dissolved, and many of its top executives have moved to Sandler O'Neill & Partners.

Both firms are well-known specialists in converting thrifts from mutual to stock ownership, and Sandler is saying the news makes it the preeminent firm in that business.

Activity in this area slowed somewhat this year when federal regulators took steps to control windfall profits to investors and insiders, but with more than 700 mutual thrifts in the country, there is still potential for advisory work.

Mark B. Cohen, a principal and founder of Adams Cohen, will now be responsible for Sandler's mutual-to-stock conversion and general corporate finance businesses. He has participated in some of the largest conversions, including those of Albank Financial Corp. and Coral Gables Fedcorp.

"His expertise should accelerate Sandler O'Neill's emergence as the preeminent firm in mutual to stock conversions as savings institutions continue to seek new capital resources and strategic planning though the public market," said Herman Sandler, senior managing principal in the firm.

Also moving to Sandler O'Neill with Mr. Cohen, who was named a principal, are James J. O'Meara and Louis B. Paar, who will join as managing directors. In October, Thomas Duke, a managing director at Adams Cohen, joined Sandler O'Neill with the same title.

Mr. Cohen formed Adams Cohen in 1984 with Robert Adams, and established the firm as a leader in thrift conversions.

The decision to dissolve the firm was made early last month. A representative of Sandler O'Neill described the dissolution as an amicable one, and said Mr. Adams would be pursuing a variety of business projects.

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