KeyCorp crowned an heir apparent to chief executive Robert Gillespie Thursday, naming Henry L. Meyer 3d vice chairman.

Mr. Meyer, 46, retains the title of chief operating officer and is expected to be named president of the $65 billion-asset Cleveland bank company in May.

Mr. Gillespie, 52, was elected to the additional post of chairman Thursday, replacing Victor J. Riley Jr., who becomes chairman emeritus.

Mr. Meyer had been senior executive vice president, a title held by three other KeyCorp executives. He continues to oversee all lines of business and takes over responsibility for banking operations from senior executive vice president Gary R. Allen.

The promotion means Mr. Meyer is in line to succeed Mr. Gillespie, 52, the former Society Corp. chief executive who engineered its 1994 merger with KeyCorp, then based in Albany, N.Y.

Mr. Allen, 48, was put in charge of merging the company's 11 banks into one by next year. He will be named chief executive of the merged banking subsidiary and will report to Mr. Meyer. Mr. Allen is the only member of the nine-person management team who came from the former KeyCorp.

Like Mr. Gillespie, Mr. Meyer is a Society veteran, having joined the company in 1972. Mr. Meyer had been vice chairman and chief banking officer at Society.

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