Fleet Bank of Massachusetts Picks A Top Officer to Lead Its Lending

Mark C. Wheeler Jr. has been named executive vice president at Fleet Bank of Massachusetts, the company announced Thursday.

Mr. Wheeler, formerly a managing director for corporate finance at Bankers Trust New York Corp., will be responsible for corporate, commercial, and private bank lending throughout the New England state. Fleet is a unit of Fleet/Norstar Financial Group.

"We are in a tough economy, which will not give us a lot of loan growth over the next 12 to 18 months," said Mr. Wheeler, 42. "The old Bank of New England franchise has eroded and we want to re-grab the natural market share that is ours."

Even in an economically depressed region, Mr. Wheeler said he expects to increase loan volume 5% to 10% over the next 18 months. The Fleet unit currently has a $2 billion loan portfolio.

Growth will come from former customers of Bank of New England, which Fleet/Norstar took over after if failed, and from a focus on asset-based lending and loans to high-tech companies. Mr. Wheeler estimates that as many as one-fourth of Bank of New England's commercial customers bank outside the Fleet system.

"We are getting business over the transom because of uncertainty in the market over other institutions," Mr. Wheeler said.

Mr. Wheeler said he would use some of the risk-management tools he learned at Bankers Trust. He plans to parcel out big loans to other banks to lessen his risk.

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