WASHINGTON -- Harrison Young will leave the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. - just three months after being promoted to acting chief operating officer and deputy to the agency's chairman.

Mr. Young, 49, plans to return to Morgan Stanley, where he will be a senior adviser based in Hong Kong. Mr. Young said he will work on privatizing government-owned businesses and financing infrastructure projects such as bridges and roads.

Dennis Geer will take Mr. Young's place, moving up from acting deputy chief operating officer.

Senior agency officials, including Chairman Andrew C. Hove Jr., are classified as "acting" because the FDIC has been without a permanent chairman since August 1992, when William Taylor died.

Announcing Monday that he was leaving Wednesday in a memo to "Everyone." Mr. Young caught his colleagues by surprise.

John Stone, acting executive director of supervision and resolutions, said: "It's a loss for the agency, no question."

But Mr. Harrison called this job "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn't pass up" in an interview Tuesday. "The FDIC doesn't depend on any one perSon."

Mr. Young was lured to the FDIC from Wall Street in early 1991..Taking a $584,000 cut in pay, Mr. Young became the agency's director of resolutions, a department created to handle the huge bank failures facing the agency.

The FDIC'S senior ranks are crowded with agency veterans. so Mr. Young was an unusual choice. But he won the senior staff's respect with his handling of the Bank of New England. Southeast Bank. First City Bank. and Crossland Savings.

Mr. Young was a driving force behind the FDIC's embrace of "early resolutions," where the agency took over institutions before they ran out of capital.

Since his elevation to chief operating officer in May, Mr. Young has expanded his purview to include everything from staffing and budgets to emerging policy issues such as mutual thrift conversions.

Mr. Young denied in an interview Tuesday that the agency's loss of power during the last two years had anything to do with his decision. The agency's morale has taken a toll as Congress has not confirmed Ricki Tigert, the Washington lawyer nominated to head the FDIC in November 1993.

"I think it would be very, very beneficial if Congress would complete the confirmation process." Mr. Young said. "But the FDIC is doing just fine."

In February, Mr. Geer transferred to the FDIC, where he has been working on the FDIC's merger with the Resolution Trust Corp.

The thrift-bailout agency was initially staffed in 1989 with FDIC employees and those people are now returning. Mr. Geer had been the RTC's vice president for administration since 1991. Mr. Geer has handled operations at other government agencies. including the Commerce, Labor. and Treasury departments.

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