Charles Coltman, First Union Corp.'s vice chairman in charge of international strategic planning, has resigned.

A veteran of CoreStates Financial Corp., Mr. Coltman, 58, had previously told colleagues that he planned to retire by January 2001. But in a brief phone interview Tuesday, Mr. Coltman said his decision to leave earlier had been triggered by personal reflections and a cost-cutting campaign at First Union.

"It boiled down to the fact that I didn't plan to stay on beyond the age of 58 and that First Union has financial targets that needed to be met."

Mr. Coltman was vice chairman of Philadelphia-based CoreStates before it merged with First Union of Charlotte, N.C., last April. He is the second senior CoreStates executive to resign from First Union since the merger.

Terrence A. Larsen, the former chairman of CoreStates, left his post of vice chairman in charge of global corporate finance for First Union last year, which was earlier than expected.

Mr. Coltman emphasized that most of the work in integrating the two banks operations has been completed.

"I've always felt it was best if the two top people in a bank merger moved on once the integration was over," Mr. Coltman said.

No successor for Mr. Coltman has been announced. However, sources at the bank said they expect Michael Heavener, executive vice president in charge of international operations, to assume many of Mr. Coltman's responsibilities, reporting to Ken Thompson, vice chairman in charge of capital markets.

First Union, which acquired a large correspondent banking and trade finance and payments business from CoreStates, is investing heavily in building an integrated worldwide fund settlement system and also has recently launched an international banknote shipment business.

The initiatives-in which First Union is investing millions of dollars- will not be affected by Mr. Coltman's decision to leave, he said.

"We're living in a revolutionary time in banking, and the pace of change is constantly accelerating," Mr. Coltman said.

"I'd be very disappointed if we're not a major international player within the next three or four years."

The executive's decision to resign was announced internally Wednesday. He plans to leave the bank June 30.

Mr. Coltman added that he plans to use his retirement to begin teaching university courses on sovereign risk management.

"I have a lot of experience with managing risk and all the mistakes people have made over the years," he said.

He added that in addition to teaching, a large part of his time will be devoted to helping run two charitable foundations for cultural and educational purposes that he and his family established with a portion of their stock earnings.

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