Walter V. Shipley, the architect of the modern Chase Manhattan Corp., said Tuesday he would retire as chairman and director on Jan. 1.
Mr. Shipley will be succeeded by chief executive officer William B. Harrison Jr. The title of president will disappear, and Mr. Harrison, 55, will be chairman and CEO. The bank said there were no plans to name a president.
The announcement had been expected since last spring, when Mr. Shipley put in motion succession plans that included his relinquishment of day-to-day management duties and the retirement of former Chase president and chief operating officer Thomas G. Labrecque.
Mr. Shipley, who marked his 64th birthday this month, long indicated his intention to depart soon after a successor was named. "Earlier this year, it became clear to me that the next generation of leadership at Chase was ready to take over and that my work was done," Mr. Shipley said in a statement Tuesday. He will continue to act as a senior advisor to the company.
The executive began his banking career in 1956 at Chemical Banking Corp., rising to president in 1982 and then chairman and CEO in 1983. Market watchers credited him for steering Chemical through two huge in-market mergers during the early 1990s, first with Manufacturers Hanover Corp. in 1991, and then with Chase in 1996.
"He took three banks that were strategically challenged and not very profitable money-centers and transformed them," said David Berry, director of research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "That required a certain personal touch that not a lot of others could have pulled off."
Today, Chase has $371 billion of assets and ranks among the largest banks in such varied businesses as syndicated lending, debt underwriting, securities processing, and mortgage origination.
A changing of the guard has been evident since Mr. Harrison took over as chief executive June 1. Two weeks later, Mr. Harrison announced the formation of Chase.com, a subsidiary devoted to the development of Internet banking capabilities. In September, the bank jump-started efforts to build equity underwriting capabilities with a $1.7 billion deal to buy San Francisco-based investment bank Hambrecht & Quist Group. That deal is slated to close this year.