A Connecticut bank struggling to meet regulatory capital guide-lines has appointed a bank-turnaround specialist as its new president and chief executive officer.

Patrick W. Wisman will take the helm of Ansonia-based Great Country Bank to help it deal with nonperforming assets and raise its Tier 1 leverage capital ratio to a regulator-mandated 6%, from 5% now.

The 51-year-old banker has reduced bad assets at several institutions during his 25-year career. Three were later bought by other companies, while another eventually failed.

"The directors and shareholders have been frustrated by their inability to turn things around, and maybe this guy can get the job done," said First Albany Corp. bank analyst Tracey Stangle, noting that Mr. Wisman is the bank's third president in three years.

"He's thought to be a pretty sharp guy," Mr. Stangle said. "He has a reputation of being a turnaround specialist. This guy's a hired gun. He comes in and shakes things up and hopefully gets it back on the track."

The $347 million-asset bank has twice failed to meet capital deadlines imposed under a 1992 cease-and-desist order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The order initially set a July 1993 deadline to raise capital, which the bank later renegotiated to December 1994. But as of Aug. 31, the institution had only a 5% capital ratio, and officials acknowledged they would not meet the later deadline.

Mr. Wisman will spend the next 60 days developing operations and management plans and making any adjustments needed in a temporary capital plan submitted to regulators Nov. 30, said Dorran M. Delay, chief consumer and operations officer for Great Country.

The bank, which is publicly traded, is evaluating ways to raise capital, but officials have no definite plan yet.

"Great Country still has some problems, and they've had at least one equity infusion, and they probably need another one," Mr. Stangle said.

Great Country lost $18.2 million in 1992 and had nonperforming assets that year of $51.7 million. The bank still had $23.3 million of bad assets at May 31, the end of its last fiscal year, and reported a loss for the year of just under $500,000.

Mr. Wisman noted that troubled banks such as Great Country "all have some similarities and the similarities are that you have to go back to the basics."

"We can't be all things to all people," Mr. Wisman said. "The bank tried that and found out that it wasn't as lucrative as they thought it would be."

Mr. Wisman comes to Great Country from the Pittsburgh office of Nachman, Hays & Associates Inc., a turnaround management firm.

During his career, he has reduced problem assets at Burritt Interfinancial Bancorp., East Hartford, Conn.; Equimark Corp., Pittsburgh; American National Bank, Bakersfield, Calif.; and Old National Bank, Spokane, Wash.

Equimark was bought in 1993 by Integra Financial Corp., and American National was bought by Wells Fargo & Co. in 1990. Old National, a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, Portland, Ore., was merged by its parent into Peoples Bank of Seattle in 1988, forming U.S. Bank of Washington.

Equimark, a $3.5 billion-asset company, was the largest turnaround without government assistance in history, Mr. Wisman noted.

But Burritt still failed in 1992, with some of its assets sold to Connecticut's Derby Savings Bank, a subsidiary of DS Bancorp.

Mr. Wisman stressed that he was not simply out to sell Great Country and make a profit. "I don't want everybody to get the idea that's what I'm in here for," he said. "This bank has not expressed an interest to sell at this point."

A native of Great Falls, Mont., Mr. Wisman studied business administration at Ohio University and the University of California at Los Angeles. He was graduated from the Lewis Allen Management School in Los Angeles.

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