Veteran mortgage industry executive Mark L. Korell, chairman and chief executive of Finet.com Inc., announced he is retiring.

The San Ramon, Calif., Internet lender said last week that the 51-year-old Mr. Korell, who is also a director of the company, is to step down Jan. 15.

Another director, Stephen J. Sogin, is to become interim CEO while Finet searches for a permanent one.

Mr. Korell could not be reached to comment. In a statement he said he plans to spend more "quality time" with his family and on charitable activities.

Finet's stock is off more than 90% from its 52-week high of $18.25. It closed at $1.375 Friday.

The company lost $8.2 million in the third quarter, compared with a $4.8 million loss the year earlier. Losses per share declined to 9 cents, from 15 cents, because of an increase in the number of shares.

Mr. Korell joined Finet.com in October 1998. Before that he had spent a year as chief executive officer of IMX Mortgage Exchange, also in San Ramon.

But he is best known for heading up two of the nation's biggest mortgage companies.

From 1986 to 1995 he was CEO of GMAC Mortgage, the Horsham, Pa., unit of General Motors Corp., and from 1995 to 1997 he was CEO of Norwest Mortgage in Des Moines, which is now part of Wells Fargo & Co.

After leaving Norwest in April 1997, Mr. Korell was considered a candidate to run then-ailing Fleet Mortgage in Columbia, S.C.

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