Barnett Banks Inc. has hired consumer finance veteran Jeffrey C. Larsen as president and chief operating officer of its consumer finance subsidiary, Equicredit Corp.

Mr. Larsen, 53, joins Equicredit from CIT Group/Consumer Finance Inc., where he had been executive vice president. In his new job, Mr. Larsen will report to Equicredit chairman and CEO John T. Hayt and be responsible for managing and directing national loan production at the subsidiary Barnett acquired in January.

"I was hired to help strengthen the management group to continue doing the excellent things we're doing today in home equity lending, and to expand our capabilities into other related fields," Mr. Larsen said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Equicredit is a leading national home equity lender, operating in 35 states, with plans to originate more than $1 billion in first and second mortgage loans this year and a $2 billion servicing portfolio.

Mr. Hayt, also interviewed Tuesday, said the company plans to double its current 1.5% share of the home equity market by 1997.

"To continue to grow and actually double the size of the company in a very short period of time required strengthening some of the executive positions, and Jeffrey's certainly the guy to accomplish those goals," Mr. Hayt said.

"Jeff's experience and leadership will complement our operation well as we continue to aggressively expand our position in the highly competitive consumer finance market."

Mr. Hayt said most of this anticipated growth would be internal, though the company does plan to increase the number of its 90 full-service branches by 10 and probably double the 20 or so smaller offices.

Mr. Larsen is a 29-year veteran of both the banking and consumer finance industries. His experience includes stints at CIT, where he was responsible for the company's entry into home equity lending; Commercial Credit Corp.; Security Pacific Corp.; Mellon Financial Services, and General Electric Credit Corp.

He received his bachelor's degree in business from Kensington University in Glendale, Calif., and his master's degree in business administration from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles.

He is a member of the executive committee and board of the National Second Mortgage Association and a past member of the board of the American Financial Services Association.

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