Peoples Heritage Bank of Portland, Maine, has hired Fleet Bank veteran David J. Ott to be president and chief executive officer.

He is to take over next week at the bank, Maine's largest, where he will succeed Glenn McAllister, who resigned in December. Mr. Ott, 47, spent nearly 20 years at Fleet Financial Group of Boston, the last two as president and CEO of its $2 billion-asset Maine subsidiary.

A Maine native, Mr. Ott said he could not pass up the opportunity to lead a larger bank headquartered in his home state.

"Peoples Heritage has been around a long time and has a real interest in Maine's well-being," Mr. Ott said in an interview Wednesday. "That was very important to me."

William J. Ryan, chairman, president and CEO of Peoples Heritage Financial Group Inc., the parent company, said Mr. Ott has been "a great competitor" through the years, especially in commercial lending.

"He is very well regarded in business circles and the community at large," Mr. Ryan said.

The bank wanted to hire a Maine native. "That way you get off on the right foot from day one," he said.

Peoples Heritage has $4.3 billion of assets, 1,900 employees, and 75 branches. It is the largest subsidiary of the $12 billion-asset holding company, which also operates community banks in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

Fleet is splitting Mr. Ott's former duties between Bradford A. Hunter, who was named chairman and CEO, and Elizabeth Greenstein, who was named president.

Once Maine's largest bank, Fleet is now third in the state behind Peoples Heritage and KeyBank. Last year, Fleet sold 31 of its 85 branches in Maine.

Bradley McCurtain, president of the Portland investment firm Maine Securities Inc., agreed that Mr. Ott's ties to the area would help Peoples Heritage. He said it is not uncommon for customers "to follow people and not institutions."

Laurie Hunsicker, an analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. in Arlington, Va., said Peoples Heritage has a reputation for tapping big banks for both employees and customers. Mr. Ryan, who joined Peoples Heritage 11 years ago, is a former Bank of New England executive.

"This is very much in line with what they've always done," she said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.