their positions last week in a restructuring that caps a yearlong personnel shake-up. The four, including the Georgia subsidiary's chief financial officer and the head of the Atlanta branch network, were pushed out at the direction of president and chief executive officer David Carroll, who appears to be bringing his own team on board. "Their personal skill sets were just not aligned with the skill sets we needed in those key jobs," Mr. Carroll said in an interview this week. "I'm just trying to make sure I've got the right players in the right jobs." Mr. Carroll, 38, joined First Union National Bank of Georgia in April 1994 as president and added the CEO title a year later. He has transferred or replaced nearly all the Georgia bank's 11 city presidents. One insider said Mr. Carroll was taking a risk in making so many changes. "He's really throwing the dice," the source said. Affected by the latest moves are Patrick A. Arnold, executive vice president and head of the 80-branch metro Atlanta network; chief financial officer Joseph K. Agostino; senior vice president for human resources Glen Chambers; and James R. Hicks, executive vice president for retail banking. Mr. Agostino has already been replaced as chief financial officer by Steven L. Parker, formerly vice president of strategic planning at First Union National Bank of Virginia. Mr. Carroll also worked in the Virginia bank for a couple of years before coming to Georgia. "I think David wants to put together a team to his liking," Mr. Arnold said. "There were no major issues involved." "My job is to make an objective decision about whether or not the people that are here get the job done," Mr. Carroll said. Mr. Chambers has taken another job within the company as employee relations consultant for Georgia and Tennessee operations. Mr. Arnold said he doubted he would stay with First Union, but Mr. Agostino said he was exploring other opportunities in the corporation. Mr. Hicks could not be reached for comment. The turmoil at First Union in Georgia is not surprising, given the bank's reputation as the troubled child of the Charlotte, N.C.-based holding company. In no other part of its superregional empire has the $87 billion-asset company had to struggle so hard to reach an acceptable level of profitability. The problem dates from 1986, when First Union acquired Augusta-based First Railroad and Banking Co., a loose alliance of community banks that fit poorly into First Union's more centralized branch system. Most of the First Railroad executives left in the wake of the merger, creating internal turmoil and giving First Union a public relations black eye. In 1993, First Union bolstered its weak Atlanta presence with the purchase of two large thrifts. They gave the company the branch system it needed in Atlanta, but at the cost of a thriftlike balance sheet with high-cost time deposits and a low-margin mortgage business. First Union National Bank of Georgia, with $6.6 billion of assets, still lags the rest of First Union in profitability. Its return on assets, according to Sheshunoff Information Services Inc., was 1.03% at June 30; the parent company posted a 1.21% ROA for the first nine months. The Sheshunoff numbers actually understate the relative underperformance at the Georgia subsidiary, since profits from First Union's $5.2 billion credit card portfolio are booked in Georgia. Mr. Carroll said the high credit card returns are partially offset by $2.9 billion of lower-margin mortgage loans within the Georgia bank.
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