William M. Crozier Jr., 65, chairman of BankBoston Corp., said Thursday he would retire Dec. 31, a year ahead of schedule. Chief executive Charles K. Gifford, 54, will take on the additional title of chairman on Jan. 1, the company said.

Mr. Crozier spent 32 years with BayBanks Inc.-21 as its chief executive- until it merged with BankBoston in 1995. He will remain on the BankBoston board through the company's annual meeting in 1999, with the title of chairman emeritus, the bank said.

In an interview, Mr. Crozier said he had decided to retire earlier than planned because the merger integration of BayBanks and the former Bank of Boston Corp. is now complete.

"All the things seem to feel just right," he said.

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