Fleet Financial Group is shuttering its 17 mortgage offices in the Midwest and West, saying it wants to concentrate on marketing mortgages through bank branches in its home territory, the Northeast.

The strategy is the first step by a new management team to attack persistent profitability problems. Michael J. Torke, who became president of Fleet Mortgage Group last month, said poor name recognition outside the Northeast made it difficult to generate retail business. The far-flung offices, he added, were "a distraction."

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