The chief executive of Kentucky's largest independent bank cited "the call of the wild" as reason for resigning after less than two years in the top spot.

Terry Coleman said that after 14 years in the confines of $1.8 billion- asset Pikeville National Corp. he was anxious to return to his original passion: Running his own business.

Mr. Coleman started his first business, a coal mining company, in 1975 at the age of 23. He sold it two years later, and opened another company in 1980. That one he sold after a year.

Mr. Coleman, now 45, said he is weighing a number of options for his next move.

"I just wanted a change ... I know that's hard to explain," Mr. Coleman said in an interview. "But there's just nothing like working for yourself."

An observer close to the bank bore out Mr. Coleman's contention that he resigned of his own volition and with no ill will toward the bank. There had been disagreements with the board, but nothing unusual, Mr. Coleman said.

"There's always tensions between management and boards," Mr. Coleman said. "There was no event that caused me to leave."

The bank's 1995 return on assets showed improvement from the year- earlier period, 0.66% compared to 0.56% Pikeville National acknowledged in the 1995 annual report that it was "not completely satisfied with our financial performance."

Pikeville has picked up the pace in 1996, with a return on assets of 1.1% during the first nine months, according to SNL Securities.

"I couldn't have left the company if there were problems," Mr. Coleman said.

Replacing him on an interim basis will be the bank's 68-year-old chairman, Burlin Coleman (no relation), a 45-year veteran who ran the bank from 1979 until he retired in 1994.

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