The new BankAmerica Corp., which completed its merger with NationsBank Corp. Sept. 30, said Monday that Catherine P. Bessant had been named president of the $595 billion-asset institution's community development bank.
That pushes aside Donald A. Mullane, who had run community development at the old BankAmerica. Mr. Mullane said he would resign Dec. 31.
In an interview, Mr. Mullane said he had originally accepted the post of chairman of the community development bank, reporting to Ms. Bessant. He decided it lacked decision-making power and "I chose not to serve as titular head of the group. It became clear that this is best managed by one person."
"The majority of appointments for key positions have gone to people from Nations," said Joseph K. Morford, an analyst at Van Kasper & Co., San Francisco. "While this kind of thing may be common in acquisitions, it is surprising here because this was initially described as a merger of equals."
The announcement of Mr. Mullane's departure came after BankAmerica president David A. Coulter suddenly resigned last week. Mr. Coulter reportedly was asked to leave by NationsBank officials after the new company reported dismal third-quarter earnings.
Another four of the seven executives in the old BankAmerica's office of the chairman have also decided to leave.
Ms. Bessant is regarded as highly qualified. However, some California groups said Monday that they feared the departure of Mr. Mullane means the new company would reduce its focus on the complex community development issues.
"It is an indication that California will be a colony of North Carolina," said Robert Gnaizda, general counsel of the Greenlining Institute. "The failure of the bank to figure out how to keep Mullane is an indication of how important California is to the new BankAmerica."
In her new role, Ms. Bessant will oversee the new BankAmerica's commitment to funding $350 billion of community development in the next decade. She said combining two banks that are leaders in this field will produce a commitment to community development that "couldn't be stronger.
"This company is driven to set the industry standard in community lending," she said in an interview.
BankAmerica also named 10 people who will head the community development bank's business units and report to Ms. Bessant. Eight appointees are former NationsBank executives, including the head of the Bank of America community development bank. Mr. Mullane said his "biggest disappointment in all of this" was the fact that the community development bank's former head, BankAmerica's Mike Mantle, was not asked to stay on.