National Processing Inc. promoted Jim W. Cate to executive vice president.

He had been senior vice president and chief financial officer. Mr. Cate, 45, will continue to hold the latter title.

The No. 2 transaction processor had several sudden executive-level departures in March, when its stock price dropped to less than half its annual high of $20.87. Experts said the Cleveland-based parent company, National City Corp., was trying to take control of a grave financial situation.

Among those who left were Kurt S. Knipp, executive vice president for merchant card services, and Richard Alston, executive vice president for finance and corporate development.

Thomas A. Richlovsky, senior vice president of National City, said Mr. Cate's promotion was "a recognition of Jim's enhanced contribution to the company" and was "not directly related to the executive changes" that have happened in the last few months.

Before joining National Processing in 1996, Mr. Cate was a senior vice president and CFO for MBNA Information Services Inc., a unit of Wilmington, Del.-based MBNA Corp. He also served as a consultant for the unit.

Mr. Cate will report to Robert E. Showalter, who succeeded Tony G. Holcombe in March as chief executive officer.

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