American Banker has named J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. chief executive officer William B. Harrison Jr. its 2000 Banker of the Year for leading Chase Manhattan Corp. to its long-sought transformational merger - culminating in the courtship and capture of one of the most prestigious financial services names in the world.

The citation of Mr. Harrison, along with several other financial services industry awards, was made public today in an American Banker special report, "Best in Banking 2000," inserted in this issue.

The newspaper also cited former Citigroup Inc. co-chief executive John S. Reed for his lifetime achievement in financial services and banking. In a wide-ranging interview published today, the media-shy Mr. Reed - who concluded his career in an ill-fated power-sharing arrangement with his merger partner, Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill - offered some insights into the experience. Among other things, he talks about his relationship with Mr. Weill, saying, "I don't think either Sandy or I thought we were going to work well together."

"Best in Banking 2000" carries essays on all the winners, drawing from interviews with each of them. Vernon W. Hill of Commerce Bancorp in Cherry Hill, N.J., talks about how he keeps a steady eye on the Wal-Marts of the world while looking for role models and competitors. John B. McCoy, who retired from Bank One Corp. amid questions about the sagacity of some of his consolidation moves, asserts: "There isn't a deal I wouldn't redo."

American Banker has been naming a Banker of the Year since 1991. In previous years the award has gone to Mr. Weill, the Travelers Group chief and now Citigroup CEO, as well as to Firstar Bancorp CEO Jerry Grundhofer.

Also featured in the report are John A. Allison of BB&T, who was named Consolidator of the Year for quietly adding 51 banks and thrifts to his empire and expanding its deposit base from $5 billion to $60 billion in 10 years; Commerce's Mr. Hill, named Community Banker of the Year for his strategy to build - not buy - 150 branches in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, all of which are open seven days a week; and J. Scott Lowry of Zions Bancorp's Digital Signature Trust, who was named Enthusiast of the Year for his campaign to make that new technology a vital part of financial services.

A special Brawl of the Year award was bestowed on Fannie Mae chairman and CEO Franklin D. Raines and Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., for their donnybrook over the fate of the government-sponsored enterprises.

Finally, the report looks at big-name bankers who retired in 2000 - such as Mr. McCoy, First Union Corp.'s Edward E. Crutchfield Jr., and Bank One's Verne G. Istock.

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