NEW YORK -- J.P. Morgan confirmed late Friday that its chief financial officer, Peter D. Hancock, 42, had resigned to pursue "longstanding entrepreneurial interests."

Thomas B. Ketchum, 50, was immediately named the successor of Mr. Hancock, according to a release issued four and a half hours after Friday's market close.

Mr. Ketchum will continue as chief administrative officer of the $266 billion-asset company, and assume Mr. Hancock's CFO responsibilities.

The company explained that although Mr. Hancock's future plans were not definite, he is investigating some "alternatives" which could be potential investments for Morgan.

Mr. Hancock started his career at Morgan in 1980 in the London corporate finance unit, and rose through the ranks to head the company's global swaps group, global fixed income business, and credit portfolio group. He has been chairman of the capital committee and the risk management committee since January 1999. He was promoted to CFO in June 1999, succeeding John A. Mayer Jr., who became head of J.P. Morgan Capital Corp., the company's private-equity arm.

"He has made a tremendous difference to the firm, its clients, and shareholders over 20 years at Morgan, and we wish him the best for the future,'' said Chairman Douglas A. Warner 3d.

Mr. Hancock said he leaves Morgan with "great confidence in the firm's future."

"For me, the time was right to do it," he said in a statement.

According to midday wire reports, J.P. Morgan said Mr. Hancock's plans to resign had been delayed about a week, due to a death in his family, and had not been related to accounting difficulties at the company.

The announcement came after recent speculation that Deutsche Bank was in merger talks with J.P. Morgan, fueled by an article in the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

(From wire, company web sites, and recent American Banker articles.)

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