WASHINGTON - The National Association of Federal Credit Unions has hired retired naval officer Fred R. Becker Jr. to be its president and chief executive officer.

Mr. Becker, 50, is to succeed longtime president Kenneth L. Robinson, who this year announced his plan to retire. Mr. Becker is to take the helm in late January.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mr. Becker held a variety of posts during his 25-year naval career, including chief lobbyist and senior prosecutor. Upon retiring in 1996 as a captain, he became director of naval affairs at the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, a nonprofit group dedicated to a strong military and an active role for reserve officers. He also was a national security aide at the federal Office of Management and Budget. He holds a master's degree in business administration.

In getting the nod from the trade group last week, Mr. Becker beat out nearly 200 other candidates, including former House Banking Committee member William H. Orton, a Utah Democrat.

Mr. Robinson, himself a former military officer, was among those leading the credit unions when they suffered a crushing Supreme Court defeat in February 1998. The industry lost out to banks, which had challenged the National Credit Union Administration's generous interpretation of the limits on credit union membership. But he helped engineer a spectacular rebound six months later when President Clinton signed legislation that effectively nullified the high court ruling. Mr. Robinson will remain a consultant to the trade group.

- Scott Barancik

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