Union Bank of Illinois hopes Dennis Bielke is its ticket to the big leagues.

With ambitions of becoming a regional player, the $77.9 million-asset Swansea-based bank reached across the Mississippi River to pluck Mr. Bielke from Boatmen's Bancshares, St. Louis. Mr. Bielke's status as president of the Boatmen's East Region had been thrust into limbo during NationsBank Corp.'s acquisition of Boatmen's, which closed Jan. 7.

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