First Chicago NBD Corp. is shuffling the top ranks of its loan syndications team.

Jacqueline Hurlbutt, 47, a senior vice president who has headed the loan syndications group since January 1993, is moving to an unspecified new post, bank officials said.

Succeeding her is Robert Patterson, 44, who most recently oversaw relationships with midsize companies - those with sales of $150 million to $1 billion - and with smaller correspondent banks in the Midwest.

Observers said further retooling in corporate banking is likely as the company - formed last year through a merger of First Chicago Corp. and NBD Corp. - looks for ways to streamline operations and boost profits. The corporate banking group, which employs 6,900, includes syndicated lending, investments, and other corporate services.

"We figured that for six to 12 months there would be a honeymoon effect as the banks melded the two sides together," said Tony Howard, a bank analyst and director of research at First of Michigan in Detroit. "After that, we're seeing some cost cutting and realignment."

Ms. Hurlbutt, who came from the First Chicago side, was well regarded in lending circles. But observers said the merger had changed the mix of business at First Chicago NBD, making a change in leadership inevitable.

"NBD had much more of a middle-market, investment-grade approach to lending," said a loan syndicator at another bank. "They won't be taking a lot of flying leaps in this business, so I'm not surprised that they are shaking up the syndication business."

Observers also said the corporate banking group's profits have lagged those typical for the industry, though none attributed this to Ms. Hurlbutt's management.

"This has been a year in which returns on other banks' corporate business have been above average," said Raphael Soifer, a bank analyst at Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co. "First Chicago NBD's return was earned at a time when credit losses have been almost nonexistent. That is not a long- term situation for any bank."

First Chicago NBD has said it wants a 15% return on equity from corporate banking, versus about 9% now. "Clearly, we have a lot of work to do," a spokesman said.

"We think it's a do-able goal," said Mr. Howard of First of Michigan. "A lot of people are setting higher return on equity targets. It is a matter of realigning the proper people and getting into special products in each area."

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