Nearly eight months after he was tapped to help turn around Bankers Trust New York Corp., chief executive Frank Newman has yet to purchase any company stock, according to insider trading data.

"The fact that Mr. Newman has yet to buy stock shows he is still waiting to make his mark," said Robert Gabele, president of CDA/Investnet, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., an American Banker affiliate that tracks the data.

A spokesman for Bankers Trust disagreed, saying that much of Mr. Newman's compensation is in the form of equity, so it is unsurprising he hasn't made additional cash purchases.

But one observer said stock purchases by new executives are an important way of signaling management's confidence in a struggling company.

"If I were an investor in Bankers Trust I sure would like to see the guy step up to bat and put the money in line with me," said Russell Brooks, a principal with Market Profile Theorems, a Seattle firm that tracks insider trading at 2,400 companies.

Mr. Brooks said there have been no significant insider buys at Bankers Trust since May 1994.

The New York money-center was wracked by derivatives woes in 1995 after some clients accused the company of deliberately misleading them. The stock, which traded above $80 per share in 1994, finished Tuesday at 68.875.

Mr. Newman, who joined Bankers Trust as vice chairman in September, became chief executive in October, and was named chairman on Monday.

Mr. Newman got a $500,000 cash bonus and a $500,000 base salary when he signed on. He also became eligible for bonuses totaling $4.5 million over 1996 and 1997, with 30% to be paid in equity.

He also got 10,000 shares, which he cannot cash out for five years, and options on an additional 100,000 shares. Those have been underwater - or below the $69.06 market price on the day issued - for much of his tenure.

Among executives hired to help turn around large banks, the insider buying record is decidedly mixed.

In 1990, John Grundhofer arrived at First Bank System Inc. to help revive the foundering bank, and waited six months before making his first purchase of company stock.

Frank Cahouet already owned Mellon Bank Corp. stock when he arrived at the Pittsburgh bank in 1987, as did Paul Homan when he took over the reins of Riggs National Bank in 1993.

One of ex-Citicorp executive Thomas Theobald's first moves as the new CEO of Continental Illinois Corp. in 1987 was to buy stock.

Mr. Newman waited a year before consummating an insider buy at BankAmerica Corp., where he became chief financial officer in 1986 after leaving Wells Fargo & Co.

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