A former president of Bank of Boston's subsidiary in Worcester, Mass., has been named president and chief executive of Banknorth Group Inc.'s Massachusetts operations.

Richard B. Collins will take over the helm of First Massachusetts Bank, a subsidiary being formed by Burlington, Vt.-based Banknorth that will include 13 former Shawmut National Corp. branches in central and western Massachusetts.

The acquisition of the branches, with $634 million in deposits and $400 million in loans, is expected to be completed in the first quarter.

The 53-year-old Mr. Collins said Banknorth's first task after establishing the bank will be retaining the customers, who aren't familiar with the Banknorth name or reputation as "a credible entity." But he said the company sees "real opportunities" for growth in the state.

"What Banknorth has decided to do is a very challenging endeavor and that's part of the excitement. It's creating a bank almost from scratch," he said. "They are expanding to Massachusetts not just for this one opportunity but to find ways to keep their banking world growing."

Mr. Collins, who was president of $600 million-asset Mechanics Bank in Worcester when Bank of Boston bought it, had led the Boston bank's 31- branch, $1.6 billion-asset division in Worcester since 1993.

"The Bank of Boston is a big organization from my perspective," he said. "They're doing a lot of things well, but of necessity, given the kind of things that they're about, it's difficult for them to structure an organization that gives the local bankers as much control as they should have."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.