Keycorp has tapped its top Florida executive, Frederick A. Deal, who has a record of turning banks around and developing them, to oversee the burgeoning Rocky Mountains market.

Mr. Deal, who has been CEO of Keycorp's Society First Federal Savings Bank of Fort Myers since July 1994, will replace Edmund J. Keane Jr. as executive vice president and group executive for the Rocky Mountains group, starting Jan. 1. He'll be based in Denver.

Mr. Keane, who was named to the Rocky Mountains post a year ago, was named executive vice president and group executive for trust and private banking business in Florida. He will replace Mr. Deal as chief executive of the Florida thrift until it's sold to First Union Corp. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

Mr. Keane, 62, said he will oversee Keycorp's trust operations until he retires at the end of 1996.

Mr. Deal earned his reputation for turnarounds by nursing the ailing First Eastern Corp., Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to health, then selling it to PNC Bank Corp. Earlier, he spearheaded the consolidation of Trustcorp Inc., Toledo, after Society Corp. acquired it.

But Mr. Deal, 54, said his experience had been working with growing institutions, a job he prefers to curing sick ones. Society put him in charge of starting nine branches with no deposits in Columbus, Ohio, in 1977. Columbus now represents a $1 billion franchise for Keycorp.

Mr. Deal said Keycorp officials made the right choice in shutting down its Florida retail operations because growth potential is limited there for banks that don't have a significant presence.

Conversely, the Rocky Mountains region is the smallest but the fastest- growing geographic area for Keycorp. The company has only $5.3 billion in assets in the region, but the growth rate among those banks was 17.5% from 1994 to 1995, Mr. Deal said.

"It's clear that the region doesn't need to be fixed," said Fred A. Cummings, an analyst with McDonald & Co., Cleveland.

Mr. Cummings said the Rocky Mountains banks represent the second-best- performing region for Keycorp, just behind the Great Lakes region. Return on assets for the Rocky Mountains region was 1.48% for the third quarter and 1.35% for the first nine months of the year. The Great Lakes region reported a third-quarter ROA of 1.51%.

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