CHARLOTTE, N.C. - First Union Corp. said Tuesday that Mark W. Mealy has been promoted to head the bank's mergers and acquisitions group.

Mr. Mealy, 43, previously a managing director who focused on M&A for growth companies in the service and health-care sectors, succeeds Tripp Johnston, who was promoted to the newly created post of chief operating officer of capital markets. Mr. Mealy now reports to Stephen E. Cummings, co-head of capital markets.

Mr. Mealy joined merger and advisory specialist Bowles Hollowell Conner & Co. of Charlotte in 1989 and worked there with Mr. Cummings. First Union bought the firm in 1998.

First Union, which aims to cross-sell its M&A services to its corporate clients, is not among the top 25 merger advisers ranked by Thomson Financial Securities Data.

Mr. Mealy said the tables are misleading because much of the bank's work is in the divestiture of privately held businesses in which the purchase price is not disclosed. The bank is the second-largest M&A firm handling transactions of $250 million or less, Mr. Mealy said.

He added that First Union plans to continue building its mergers business through its rapport with private equity groups, its established equity research department, and its "willing and supportive bank balance sheet."

First Union is engaged in "about double" the number of transactions that it had on tap a year ago, he said, and the average size of transactions has increased "significantly." The bank is taking advantage of growth in the M&A market for mid-cap companies, First Union's primary target.

A spokeswoman for the bank said it is committed to the mergers group, which is unaffected by the $2.8 billion restructuring announced June 26. Eager to close or sell its underperforming businesses, First Union said it would close Money Store, its consumer finance unit, as well as sell its mortgage servicing and credit card portfolios.

As part of this restructuring, 90 employees of the fixed-income sales, trading, and research department were laid off Monday, and offices in Boston and San Francisco were closed. All told, the bank has more than 5,000 employees in capital markets.

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