Although no one expected Dime Bancorp chairman Richard Parsons to remain long after the thrift's upcoming merger with Anchor Bancorp, analysts and bank executives agreed Monday his decision to jump ship for the presidency of Time Warner Inc. was a complete surprise.

The move means Anchor Bancorp chairman James W. Large Jr. will take control of the new Dime Bancorp, which will be the nation's fourth-largest thrift holding company after the deal's expected closing in mid-January.

Even Mr. Parsons was caught off guard. He "had no immediate plans" to leave the bank, he said in an interview Monday. But Time Warner offered him a position that he felt he couldn't refuse.

"That's how life is," he said.

A prominent African-American businessman who was on the staff of former New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, in the administration of former President Gerald R. Ford, and, more recently, was chairman of the transition team for New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Parsons has been a Time Warner director since 1990. He has been Dime's chairman since 1988.

Time Warner's chief executive officer, Gerald Levin, was reportedly under pressure to beef up his top management team and approached Mr. Parsons about the job several weeks ago.

Mr. Large, who was supposed to serve as chairman and chief executive of the new Dime's lead subsidiary, Dime Savings Bank of New York FSB, will now dictate policy companywide.

Thomas Theurkauf, a banking analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., said Mr. Large is a "strong nuts-and-bolts manager. What he brings from the Anchor side of the equation is very good credit controls and credit disciplines."

The announcement also means an expanded role for Dime president and chief operating officer Lawrence Toal.

Although Mr. Toal's title will not change, he will go from "being responsible for the revenue line to being responsible for the entire operations of the bank," he said in an interview Monday.

Despite the shakeup at the top, Mr. Toal said Mr. Parsons' departure "should not affect the merger.

The merger is proceeding on schedule. The fundamentals of the merger remain," he added.

Part of the reason the transition is expected to run smoothly, in spite of his abrupt resignation, is that Mr. Parsons said at the time the merger was announced that his destiny did not lay with banking.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.