David Daberko will have to refocus National City Corp. on new retail delivery systems when he takes over from retiring chairman Edward Brandon on Sept. 30.

The 49-year-old president and chief executive has his work cut out for him because retail banking has not been a particular strength of the Cleveland-based company, according to Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette analyst Tom Brown.

"This is a lot like what happened when Carl Reichardt was leaving Wells Fargo & Co. at the end of 1994." He, like Brandon, "saw that the future is going to be dramatically different from the past," Mr. Brown said.

However, analysts are optimistic that Mr. Daberko is up to the job. They say that there is little fear that National City, with $35 billion of assets, will become a target for takeover.

"There has been a gradual transition with Daberko taking responsibility over the last couple of years," said Lehman Brothers banking analyst Michael Mayo. National City is "less likely to be acquired than banks that have below average long-term records." National City's "long-term return on equity is 15% compared to the peer average at 13%." And low ROE is a "common characteristic of banks that get taken over," Mr. Mayo said.

Mr. Brandon, who will turn 64 on Sept. 15, said Monday he announced his retirement a year ahead of typical retirement age because, given the level of change going on in the banking industry, "it's more fair that decisions be made by David and his team."

Mr. Brandon started with National City as a management trainee in 1956. He will remain on the bank's board.

Considered by analysts to be more of a long-term visionary than Mr. Daberko, Mr. Brandon is credited with expanding National City beyond its home state into neighboring Kentucky and Indiana. He has been chairman of the bank since 1987.

Mr. Daberko, who was handed his current titles in 1993 and has been with the bank since 1968, emphasized that the September transition was not a change of direction for the bank. "We need to segment our customers and meet their individual needs better than we have in the past. It's clear that there are some factors in our performance which could be better," he said.

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