SAN FRANCISCO -- In an expected change of command, Bancorp Hawaii said chairman and chief executive H. Howard Stephenson will retire next July, shortly after he turns 65.

To succeed him, the company has tapped Lawrence M. Johnson, its current president. Richard J. Dahl, currently vice chairman and chief financial officer, will replace Mr. Johnson as president. Mr. Stephenson will remain a company director.

The transition at Hawaii's largest bank company was approved by the corporation's board on Wednesday.

Analysts described the succession as orderly, in keeping with the company's reputation for carefully choreographed leadership changes.

"This is a very smooth transition," said J. Richard Fredericks of Montgomery Securities.

Mr. Johnson, 53, is known as a people-oriented leader with a knack for building rapport with employees and customers. He is likely to bring a more extroverted style to Bancorp Hawaii's top job than the cerebral and reserved Mr. Stephenson.

At the same time, analysts expect Bancorp Hawaii's new chief to keep in place the company's longstanding strategy of diversifying by geography and business line.

In five years as CEO, Mr. Stephenson nearly doubled Bancorp Hawaii's assets to $12.5 billion, while maintaining strong profits and a clean loan portfolio.

Under Mr. Stephenson's leadership, the company kept its position as the leading retail and commercial bank in the Aloha State as it built operations in East Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the U.S. mainland.

At the same time, he expanded brokerage, trust, and thrift subsidiaries.

But Mr. Johnson will face plenty of challenges.

The recent slump in the Hawaiian economy has stalled earnings and loan growth, while causing problem credits to tick upward.

What's more BankAmerica Corp's arrival in Hawaii last year has brought retail banking competition to a boil.

Mr. Johnson, a Honolulu native, is well equipped to fight for consumer business.

He joined Bancorp Hawaii as a trainee in 1958 and rose through a series of retail jobs, including a stint as manager of the Waikiki branch. More recently, he supervised such functions as marketing and branch systems development.

Mr. Dahl, 42, a former auditor, is viewed as a strong financial executive whose skills complement Mr. Johnson's.

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