A West Virginia investor group has become the majority shareholder of the nation's largest bank owned and managed primarily by women.

In July, a group led by Marshall Reynolds, a former West Virginia banker, purchased 71% of Abigail Adams National Bancorp of Washington, D.C., from Citicorp and last week offered to buy the remaining 29% from the other shareholders.

"We feel like a great cloud has been lifted from over our heads," said Kimberly J. Levine, senior vice president and treasurer of the $84 million- asset Abigail Adams. "We're excited to move forward aggressively now."

Citicorp became the majority owner of the bank after it seized the stock several years ago from three real estate developers, two of whom had gone bankrupt in 1990. Citicorp had lent the developers money to buy the Abigail stock, which became the collateral for the loans.

Abigail Adams and Citicorp have been trying for several years to find a buyer for the stock. An investment banker hired by Abigail Adams located Mr. Reynolds, who heads Champion Industries Inc. of Huntington, W.Va., a holding company for printing companies.

As part of the deal, Mr. Reynolds' group has made a tender offer to purchase the remaining 29% of the stock from the roughly 350 minority shareholders. The offer, which is for $1.75 million, or $21 a share, expires Sept. 15.

"It's been a good earner over the years," Mr. Reynolds said. "They've got a fine management team over there. I'm very high on them."

Ms. Levine said the ownership issue has been somewhat of a burden because potential merger candidates have shied away, uncertain about who the future owners of the bank would be. With that issue resolved, the bank believes it can move more freely, perhaps expanding into Maryland, Ms. Levine said.

The bank was founded in 1977 as Womens National Bank by its current chairman Barbara D. Blum. It changed its name in 1986 to Abigail Adams National Bancorp, after the 18th-century figure considered to be the country's first feminist.

The majority of the bank's board, management, and owners are women. The new investor group also is made up primarily of women.

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