A former Wachovia Corp. lending officer who decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur plans to operate a new bank in western North Carolina.

J. Edgar McFarland, who worked for Winston-Salem-based Wachovia for 15 years, is to be the chief executive officer of the proposed High Street Banking Co.

High Street Banking Co., which plans offices in Asheville and Hickory, next month will ask the North Carolina banking commissioner for permission to open by Memorial Day.

Split-Up of Cole TaylorSlated to Occur Today

WHEELING, Ill.-The long-anticipated split of Cole Taylor Financial Group Inc. into a bank and a finance company is scheduled to happen today.

In exchange for the bank, an investment group headed by the founding Taylor family will surrender 4.5 million shares of the holding company's common stock and $50.8 million in cash to the holding company, which will continue as a subprime auto finance company.

After the transaction closes, the holding company will change its name to Reliance Acceptance Corp.

The company will have 53 offices in 16 states and have equity capital of more than $100 million.

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