Bank One Corp. said Friday that James W. Stewart 3d, president and chief executive officer of its WingspanBank.com Internet operation, will resign at yearend.
In a statement, Mr. Stewart said he would pursue "several Internet-based financial service opportunities."
The announcement came less than a month after Mr. Stewart's boss, Richard W. Vague, resigned as chairman of First USA Inc., the banking company's Wilmington, Del.-based credit card unit that is also in charge of WingspanBank.
Mr. Vague was succeeded by William P. Boardman, a longtime Bank One executive who helped engineer the 1997 acquisition of First USA. In a statement, Mr. Boardman acknowledged Mr. Stewart's role in the creation of WingspanBank. "Jim was instrumental in the development of First USA's on-line initiatives," he said.
The $264 billion-asset Chicago banking company has been dogged by problems at First USA, including declining revenues and customer attrition, that have dampened its overall performance. Last week Bank One issued the second of two profit-shortfall warnings this year.
Bank One chairman John B. McCoy has vigorously denied speculation that the company's financial woes would doom the WingspanBank project. But analysts interpreted Mr. Stewart's resignation announcement as another sign of trouble.
"It's another blow," said Joseph Duwan, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc. "It raises additional issues about the management stability of First USA and Bank One."
Until it announced a postponement last week, Bank One's management was scheduled to make a presentation to analysts today that was expected to include an overview of WingspanBank.com's progress and possible strategy shifts.
The company now says the presentation will be made early next year.
Analysts said the management turmoil reflects uncertainty over the future of WingspanBank, which was announced with great fanfare in June and has received much of Mr. McCoy's personal attention.
Mr. Stewart, who also had the title of executive vice president for Internet marketing at First USA, will be succeeded by two executives, both reporting to Mr. Boardman.
Gary J. Marino, executive vice president at First USA, is to take up Mr. Stewart's marketing duties. Mr. Marino joined First USA in 1995 after working 14 years at Citibank, most recently as executive director of credit for the bank card business in North America.
Michael J. Cleary, executive vice president of Internet marketing for WingspanBank, is to take over the unit's day-to-day operations. He joined the company in August from San Diego-based Smart Carte Inc., where he was president and chief operating officer.
In a statement, Mr. Boardman said he has confidence in the in-house talent available to First USA and WingspanBank.
"Both Gary and Michael have extensive experience, skill, and leadership that have and will continue to prove useful to both First USA and WingspanBank.com in maintaining industry leadership," he said. "We are fortunate that, over the years, First USA has built strength and depth in its management team to carry it forward."