Boatmen's Bancshares has announced two top-level promotions in its credit card bank.

James J. Ahearn, 49, who had been president, was named chairman and chief executive officer, replacing the retired Norman J. Tice. Mr. Ahearn will remain chairman and president of Boatmen's related merchant processing company.

Terry L. Allen, 46, replaced Mr. Ahearn as president and chief operating officer of the credit card bank. She joined the bank in 1994 as vice president of credit risk management and had spent 11 years before that at National City Card Services, Columbus, Ohio.

The promotions coincided with indications that the St. Louis-based banking company is keeping credit losses within reason.

"They're doing quite well," said Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Sandra J. Flannigan.

She said Boatmen's, which has $600 million of receivables and 870,000 accounts, had second-quarter net losses from delinquencies and chargeoffs of $5.7 million. That was down from $6.9 million in the first quarter but up from $5.2 million in the year-earlier period.

The bank's second-quarter loss ratio of 3.8%, Ms. Flannigan said. Banks of a similar size had an average loss ratio of 4.4% in the first quarter.

Boatmen's is expected to maintain its conservative course through the management change.

Robert Hammer, chairman of R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, Thousand Oaks, Calif., said Mr. Ahearn and Ms. Allen are "superb bank card executives."

"James Ahearn has been at Boatmen's for a long time," said Mr. Hammer. "He is a very thoughtful manager." "Terry Allen's track record is outstanding as a risk manager," he said. "These were both good picks."

Mr. Hammer was the lead adviser in Boatmen's sale of a $33 million card portfolio in February. The buyer, Associates First Capital Corp. of Dallas, got accounts associated with Bass-Pro, a sports retail company in Springfield, Mo.

"We previously had an affinity relationship with Bass-Pro, and they decided to discontinue the relationship," Mr. Ahearn said. "As a result, we decided it was a piece of business that we could not grow. We wanted to reinvest those funds into markets that are more in line with our current strategy of our own retail customers."

Also in February, the bank completed its acquisition of Fourth Financial Corp., the $7.4 billion-asset, Wichita, Kan.-based bank company. The deal was a stock transaction valued at $1.2 billion.

Mr. Ahearn will report to Thomas P. Johnson Jr., executive vice president of retail banking.

Before joining Boatmen's in 1985 as a bank card vice president, Mr. Ahearn had been senior vice president of American National Bank of St. Louis and executive vice president of Charter Bank, also in St. Louis.

Ms. Allen said she is "very excited about this opportunity. I think my role as chief operating officer is to insure that we support the retail franchise.

"It's also extremely important going into the future that the bank maximizes the risk-reward relationship. It is equally important that we have this controlled growth, keeping asset quality in mind."

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