In an abrupt change of plans, Washington Mutual Bank, Seattle, said that Robert T. Barnum, president of its Irvine, Calif., subsidiary, American Savings Bank, would leave it March 31.

Mr. Barnum, who was president of American Savings before it was sold to Washington Mutual last month, had been slated to stay on. In a press release, Kerry Killinger, chairman of Washington Mutual, praised Mr. Barnum for his role in building American "into one of the top franchises in California." The statement said Mr. Barnum would "pursue other business interests" when he leaves American.

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