First Union Corp. has nearly finished staffing its international department, capping a two-year expansion program that is expected to enhance the company's fee income.

First Union, which is based in Charlotte, N.C., said last week that it had hired John Jourdan and Steven Bash as key executives for the unit. The two will report to Andrew Oleksiw, the unit's managing director.

"We're pretty much staffed," said Mr. Oleksiw. "We may fill in a few odds and ends as needs arise, but we feel pretty comfortable now."

Mr. Jourdan will serve as managing director of trade services and finance. He had previously managed the international division at Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington Bancshares.

Mr. Bash comes to First Union from CoreStates Financial Corp., Philadelphia, where he spent 13 years in various international and corporate positions, including Hong Kong branch manager. Mr. Bash will be First Union's managing director of correspondent banking for Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa.

Mr. Jourdan and Mr. Bash come aboard at a time of rapid expansion for First Union's international division. Since 1992, the unit has grown from 170 to 230 employees and its annual trade finance volume has tripled, to $4 billion.

Last year, the division contributed $28.9 million in fee income to the bottom line, a 97% jump from $14.7 million two years before.

Much of the impetus for the expansion came from Mr. Oleksiw, 40, who joined First Union from NationsBank Corp. in January 1993.

Mr. Oleksiw said First Union, like most regional banks, de- emphasized international banking after the Third World debt crisis of the early 1980s, but reconsidered after buying Miami-based Southeast Banking Corp. in 1991. Southeast Bank had a strong international private banking operation and was based in a city that enjoyed close trade connections with Latin America.

"We were missing an opportunity here in terms of providing a service to our customers that is, if you look at it rationally, quite low risk and provides an opportunity to earn fee income," Mr. Oleksiw said.

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