Chase Manhattan Corp. has announced a reorganization of top management that yielded a short list of candidates to succeed chairman Walter V. Shipley.

The changes were announced Tuesday after being detailed in a memorandum to employees Monday. In the memo, Mr. Shipley and president Thomas G. Labrecque said they had created a nine-member executive committee "to prepare for the next stage in our drive for even higher levels of performance."

Expanding a previous "office of the chairman," Mr. Shipley, 62, and Mr. Labrecque, 59, will "work more closely" with seven executives who have been identified as succession candidates, Mr. Shipley said in an interview Tuesday.

Mr. Shipley and Mr. Labrecque described themselves in the memo as "totally coequal partners" focusing on "strategy, organizational effectiveness, and leadership development."

Each executive committee member reports to both the top officers. The members are William B. Harrison Jr., in charge of global corporate banking; Donald L. Boudreau, consumer banking; Donald H. Layton, global markets; James B. Lee Jr., investment banking; Marc J. Shapiro, finance and risk management; Joseph G. Sponholz, technology; and Denis J. O'Leary, retail delivery.

All are vice chairmen except Mr. O'Leary, an executive vice president who had been the bank's highly regarded chief information officer. He will be focusing on branch-based and electronic product and service delivery as a deputy to Mr. Boudreau.

Odd man out in the shuffle is Michael Hegarty, a vice chairman in charge of middle-market lending, New York metropolitan area branch banking, investment products, and small-business banking.

Mr. Hegarty, who the memo said "decided to leave Chase to pursue other interests," had reportedly bumped heads with Mr. Boudreau.

Mr. Shipley said consumer banking "needed to be united under one leader" and that he "very much" regretted Mr. Hegarty's decision to leave.

Outside observers said the reorganization was not entirely unexpected and that more changes are expected at lower levels. There was some puzzlement about each executive committee member's reporting to both the "coequal" chairman and president, after previously reporting to just one or the other.

"It tends to confuse things," said an industry watcher, who asked not to be identified. "Who's the boss?"

Mr. Shipley said his and Mr. Labrecque's day-to-day duties had not changed and that they are merely codifying "how we have been working" since the Chase-Chemical Banking Corp. merger in 1996.

Observers said the younger members of the executive committee are the most likely to rise higher. One is Mr. Sponholz, 54, who was promoted to vice chairman from executive vice president and given a new functional assignment, Chase Technology Solutions. That unit combines securities processing businesses, information technology and operations, and electronic commerce initiatives.

Mr. Sponholz had been executive vice president and chief administrative officer and was best known for coordinating efforts to combine the operations of Chase and Chemical. He retains his administrative duties.

But one of the older vice chairmen, Mr. Boudreau, 57, is also clearly in good favor. He gained consolidated retail banking responsibility after being in charge of national consumer banking when Mr. Hegarty was in place.

Mr. O'Leary, 41, took on the new assignment under Mr. Boudreau that indicates the importance Chase attaches to technology in the retail bank.

Mr. Shapiro, 50, was named vice chairman of finance and risk management in August after having run the Texas Commerce Bank subsidiary. He and Mr. O'Leary are seen as particularly fast-rising stars.

The corporate side of the bank remained relatively intact. Mr. Lee, 45, and Mr. Layton, 47, continue to report to Mr. Harrison.

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