Rosanne F. Coppola, the woman credited with helping make Citicorp a global force in syndicated lending, has resigned.
Ms. Coppola, 47, spent 28 years with Citicorp and for the last year headed its global loan department. She said in a statement that she plans to move permanently to Wyoming, where she and her husband own a home.
Citicorp officials said an internal search is under way for a replacement for Ms. Coppola. The banking company has historically groomed successors in related departments, and in this case it is expected to choose an executive with emerging markets experience.
Current and former colleagues praised Ms. Coppola's goal-oriented drive. They described her ascent at Citicorp as a "great story" in which she rose from a back-office position on the consumer bank side to the top of its corporate finance division.
"She really is the only person who could have gotten Citibank to its current position," said Bob Woods, a former Citicorp loan executive now at Societe Generale in New York. "I remember talking to her a few years ago and she said there was more she wanted to accomplish.
"It's clear that she's done that."
In 1996 Ms. Coppola was given responsibility for loans throughout Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries. In that position, she was instrumental in the bank's shift from domestic to global loan syndications. Citibank ranked third in global syndications in 1997, with $292 billion in loans, behind Chase Manhattan Corp. and J.P. Morgan & Co., according to Securities Data Co.
In a statement, Robert McCormack, co-head of global corporate banking at Citibank, called Ms. Coppola "one of the most successful women in our industry" and a role model at the bank.
"My decision to leave has been hard to reach," Ms. Coppola added. "I am intensely proud of the franchise we have built."
Both Mr. Woods and Ms. Coppola quashed speculation that her exit may have been hastened by the banking company's recently announced plans to merge with Travelers Group. Ms. Coppola said that on the contrary the deal made her decision more difficult.
The merger would "provide Citibank with even greater competitive advantage," she said.
Ms. Coppola joined the corporate banking side of Citibank in 1974 as part of its relationship management department. In 1990-at the height of the bank's credit crisis-she was promoted to head of institutional recovery and was part of the team that redesigned the portfolio management strategy.
She then moved to the bank's asset-based finance group, and by the mid- 1980s was coordinating leveraged deals for companies including Federated Department Stores and Uniroyal. She coordinated Black & Decker's buyout of Emhart and Paramount's attempted buyout of Time Warner Inc.