CHICAGO -- Furthering an internal transition, First Chicago Corp. Wednesday unveiled a realignment that elevates several officers and forms a risk management position.

Richard L. Thomas, chairman and chief executive, said the moves "evolved from the management transition which started in 1992 when I became chairman." Mr. Thomas, 63, assumed the top post at First Chicago fairly late in his carer and has been hustling to overhaul the $66 billion-asset banking company before he retires in 1996.

First Chicago replaced both top officers of its corporate and institutional banking unit. This major and historically volatile division has stabilized, but Wall Street remains unsure about its potential for growth and profitability.

David J. Vitale, 48, former head of corporate and institutional banking, was named to the new post of senior risk management officer. He will chair First Chicago's credit strategy committee and oversee the company's finance, audit, economics, corporate planning, and community affairs departments.

Former chief credit officer John W. Ballantine, 48, will take over the international component of corporate banking.

In an interview, Mr. Thomas said the appointment signifies the bank's intent to expand its international operations, which were scaled back in the mid-1980s. The corporate unit will give particular emphasis to Latin America, First Chicago said.

The former head of Midwest banking, Thomas H. Hodges, 49, will oversee the U.S. domestic arm of corporate banking.

The former co-head of corporate banking, J. Mikesell Thomas, has "decided to leave to start a new career outside commercial banking," the bank said.

Chairman Thomas said the exit was not forced, but added that, Mikesell Thomas had been wondering aloud for some time aloud about leaving banking. "In light of the proposed changes, Mike decided to face up to the issue," the chairman said.

Leo F. Mullin, president and chief operating officer, was placed in charge of a newly formed operating committee whose members head First Chicago's four major divisions: corporate, middle market, community, and credit card.

Stephen Berman, a banking analyst with NatWest Securities Corp., said it appears even more likely that Mr. Mullin will succeed Mr. Thomas at the helm of First Chicago, with Mr. Vitale gaining the No. 2 slot.

Earl W. Glazier, 57, will succeed Mr. Vitale as chief credit officer.

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.