William J. Harper has joined the senior management team of the $4.4 billion-asset First National Bank of Commerce, New Orleans.

Mr. Harper assumes the presidency of a new subsidiary that will be created as a small-business investment corporation. The new unit, licensed by the Small Business Administration, permits the bank to make equity-oriented investments in small firms.

Ashton J. Ryan Jr., president and chief operating officer of First NBC, said the creation of the entity allows the bank to provides venture capital to companies with strong internal growth potential and to finance mergers and acquisitions.

Mr. Harper joined the bank from Westinghouse Financial Services, where he worked for more than 20 years. He held numerous management positions, including senior vice president of merchant banking.

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