Bank South Chairman Quits Under Fire

ATLANTA -- Robert P. Guyton, chairman and chief executive officer of Bank South Corp., resigned abruptly Wednesday under pressure from his board.

He was replaced, on an interim basis, by two members of the executive committee: Lynn H. Johnston, its chairman, who is also chairman and chief executive of the Life Insurance Co. of Georgia, and John C. Wilson, president and chief executive of Multimart Corp., an international marketing concern.

Mr. Johnston holds the interim title of chairman, Mr. Wilson chief executive officer.

A Recruiting Problem

The direct cause of Mr. Guyton's departure, sources said, was the inability to fill the No. 2 spot -- president and chief credit officer -- at the $5.2 billion-asset bank. Prospective candidates reportedly were declining to serve under Mr. Guyton.

Mr. Guyton, 54, had come under increasing fire as Bank South's fortunes faded. Irate investors questioned him harshly at the April 18 shareholders meeting.

Director Virgil R. Williams, the largest individual shareholder, subsequently told a local newspaper he was "very upset at the performance of the bank and about the shareholders' value declining."

Real Estate Woes

Like many southeastern banks, Bank South has been hobbled by bad realty loans. It lost $2.4 million last year. Though profitability returned in the first quarter, the $5.6 million earned was 51% below the year-earlier figure. The bank's 7% ratio of nonperforming assets to total loans and real estate owned is one of the region's highest.

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